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MLB Fantasy Baseball Young Guns: New York Yankees’ Ivan Nova Ready to Explode

The fourth game of the New York Yankees’ young season showcased the much-talked-about sophomore stud Ivan Nova vs. the less-and-less-talked-about Scott Baker and the Minnesota Twins. Six innings and 84 pitches (50 for strikes) were plenty for Nova to earn his second career win and first of the 2011 season.

Nova brought a no-hitter into the fourth inning Monday night when Justin Morneau doubled, followed by a single by Delmon Young and another double from the veteran Jim Thome. The Twins scored again in the fifth to bring the game within a run, but the Yankees held on with a 4-3 win.

Nova’s final line for the night: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3K.

The 24-year-old Dominican won the fourth spot in the Yankees rotation with a solid spring training, while battling it out with Freddy Garcia (who won the fifth spot) and Bartolo Colon (bullpen). 

Nova is an excellent pitcher to take a gamble on and is almost guaranteed to be on the waiver wire in most fantasy leagues, only currently being owned at 7.5 percent in ESPN and 16 percent in Yahoo! leagues.

With a repertoire of four pitches (the two-seamer is his bread and butter), Nova should more than often be able to outlast his opponents, giving the heavy-hitting Yankees enough time to score the needed runs for a win.

At the back end of the rotation, a 11-plus win season is very much achievable for Nova in 2011. 

So goodbye, Javier Vazquez. Yankee fans do not miss you one bit. Hellloooo Ivan Nova!


Written by Evan Marx exclusively for

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: A Few Thoughts and Predictions on Opening Day

Well it’s finally here. All the research, opinions and projections will actually be put to the test. As does every fantasy baseball season, 2011 starts off quite interesting with key injuries and trades in the offseason.

No Chase Utley at the top of the 2B lists this year. Johan Santana in many leagues is not even being drafted. Zack Greinke’s short DL stint to start the season in his new home isn’t exactly the way to start a relationship. With lesser injuries we watch Corey Hart and Mat Latos.

Long time Padre Adrian Gonzalez, seemed forever doomed to play on a mediocre team for the length of his career, but Boston finally brings hope in 2011. Cliff Lee pulls a “WHAT’D YOU SAY WILLIS?” and rejoins a Philly club, who everyone except apparently Lee thought slapped him in the face. Dan Uggla hops on over to Atlanta with hopes of bringing Atlanta back to the top of the NL East.

Yes indeed, it is an interesting way to start the season, but it is certainly no different than any other year. This is our male version of soap operas and we can’t get enough.

I’d like to take a moment and make a few predictions, that undoubtedly will be proven wrong in some fashion over the course of the season, but nonetheless I want to make them.

Jose Bautista will have a great season. There I said it.
Everyone seems to be down on the guy in 2011. I do agree that it is highly unlikely he will repeat his 2010 numbers but even at a 25 percent decrease his totals will be better than the majority of the league.

To put things in perspective, in 2010 Bautista hit 22 more home runs than the next third baseman, Mark Reynolds, and even with Bautista’s dismal average he still hit 62 points higher than Reynolds. Compared to A-Rod, Jose hit 24 more home runs, 35 more runs scored, walked 41 more times and only batted 10 points less.

I’m not out of my mind here. I am completely aware that Bautista’s season was one for the ages and he could very well be the next Brady Anderson. But I’m betting that Jose will still have some of the magic left from last year and if you’re a fantasy owner you drafted him 30-35 spots later than A-Rod.

My prediction for Bautista in 2011 would be .265 / 36 HR / 100 RBI / 95 R

Buster Posey will prove to the nay sayers that he is the real deal.
It seems there is a large community in the fantasy realm that don’t see Posey ranked higher than the 5th or 6th catcher in the league. I personally think he has all the tools to be the No. 1 catcher by year’s end.

Many say his power didn’t fully appear until he got to the majors, and that it was a fluke. I’m sorry I just don’t see how 18 home runs in a short season (406 AB) could be a fluke. 

Posey is a mature kid playing on a youthful team and just having fun (especially riding the high of being world champs). He will have less pressure to prove himself and the hits will come naturally. No sophomore slump here.

My prediction for Posey in 2011 would be .315/ 25 HR / 95 RBI / 80 R

Someone will win the Triple Crown in 2011
The Triple Crown is one of baseball’s highest awards. It’s a feat that has only been accomplished 15 times since the beginning of baseball. No one has won the batting title crown in 43 years since Carl Yastremski did it in 1967.

Pujols has been extremely close to winning the triple crown for the last few years and in 2011 he may finally see victory. The only problem is that there are a handful of other guys who want it just as bad. Joey Votto seems to have rounded out to an absolute monster and Carlos Gonzalez was damn close all year.

On the AL side, a healthy Josh Hamilton could easily grab the title and of course the ever consistent Miguel Cabrera will be right there in the running.

As much as the numbers show that Pujols is the heir to the Triple Crown, something tells me that this is Joey Votto’s year. It’s just what my gut is telling me and usually my gut is telling me it wants a sandwich.

My prediction for Votto in 2011 would be .337/ 42 HR / 122 RBI / 113 R

So that’s it folks, lets get this season started and good luck to all in their run for the fantasy gold.  Make sure to check The Fantasy Fix daily during the season for great articles, injury updates, previews & so much more.

I’d love to hear some of your predictions for 2011, so leave a note below.


Written by Evan Marx exclusively for

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Back Off the Lidge, It Was Only Opening Day

The weather is getting nicer outside, and Opening Day came and went with six games that each had interesting endings.

We had studs like Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell shutting the door on their opponents, and John Axford and Ryan Franklin looking just a bit shaky.

Let’s take a look at the news we missed in the preseason edition and then dive into Opening Day.


Quick News

Shortly after the preseason edition of this column went live, it was announced that Neftali Feliz will be the closer for the Texas Rangers to begin the season.

The certainty that he is the closer for this team moves him into my top five closers and if you’re drafting this weekend, he’s absolutely worth taking at the right value.

The consensus is that he will be set up by Mark Lowe pitching the eighth and in deep leagues that count holds, he might be worth a look. 

The Phillies shut down Brad Lidge with shoulder pain during the final few days of spring training and they expect him to be out 3-6 weeks. Jose Contreras has been named the fill-in over younger Ryan Madson while Lidge is out.

If Lidge is on your team, hopefully you have gone out and gotten Contreras to fill that hole while Lidge is on the DL.

Previously, there was just speculation about Andrew Bailey and Brian Wilson, but now it is confirmed that both California closers will start this season on the 15-day DL. 

Wilson is eligible to come of the DL April 5 and will likely take over as soon as he gets back to full health; until then, Sergio Romo will likely fill in at the closer role. 

Bailey will also be available on the April 5, but the Athletics may take a little extra time bringing back their young closer, especially with an experienced veteran like Brian Fuentes in the bullpen able to close games.

If you need quick saves for a week, I like Romo more than Fuentes while their counterparts are out.

Finally, Frank Francisco will start the season on the DL for the Blue Jays and Jon Rauch will be the closer to start the year. Rauch is the best option in the bullpen while Francisco is gone and could regain the job if Francisco struggles in his comeback.


Opening Day Games 

In the first game of the day, C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander both went six innings and neither got a decision, leaving the ballgame to their respective bullpens.

Joba Chamberlain pitched a clean top of the seventh and Phil Coke could not do the same in the bottom of the inning, giving the win to Chamberlain.

The Yankees used Rafael Soriano in the eighth and earned a hold and will be a great guy in holds leagues. Mariano Rivera came in and shut the door like he does so well and got his first save of the season.

None of these sentences are particularly surprising and this will likely be consistent for the Yankees, barring any injuries.

Craig Kimbrel got the first shot in the committee in Atlanta and finished the job in a 2-0 win over the Nationals, striking out two in the process. Jonny Venters pitched the eighth and earned a hold, keeping the Nationals hitless.

If you were to draft this weekend and you wanted a Braves closer, I’m leaning harder toward Kimbrel being the better guy for the year, but I still believe it’s a committee. If the Braves go a couple weeks and Kimbrel pitches every time he’s available, then the job is his and Venters owners can go ahead and release him. 

The first blown save of the year belongs to John Axford and his awful mustache of the Brewers as the Reds scored four runs in bottom of the ninth to beat the Brewers 7-6. Takashi Saito pitched an ugly, but scoreless eighth inning and would likely get the first save chance in the bullpen if Axford were to struggle.

I believe Axford has a bit of leash but as a young guy, if he were to blow three in a row, maybe Saito gets the next chance. 

Fernando Rodney closed a two run game against the Royals in the afternoon game, despite giving up a hit and a walk. I have a hard time believing in Rodney coming into the year and the Angels are high on Jordan Walden, but want to ease him into a setup role behind Rodney.

I believe Walden will settle into the eighth inning role and possibly a chance at saves when Rodney is not available.

We got bonus baseball and a second blown save in the win by the Padres over the Cardinals, 5-3. The Padres were helped by a blown save by Ryan Franklin and a poorly timed error by Ryan Theriot.

I’m not worried about Franklin for now, but Jason Motte is the guy in the shadows in case Franklin really struggles. Heath Bell closed the door in the 11th for his first save of the year. 

And finally, as much as I was hoping to get a look at Sergio Romo, the Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 and Jonathan Broxton got the ugly save. Broxton gave up a home run to Pat Burrell, but gave up no other hits and walked none.

Broxton looked slimmed down in appearance in comparison to last year, which may help his stamina. Hong-Chih Kuo got a hold and may be the king of the holds this year just like he was last year.


Written by Jim Dingeman exclusively

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Roll the Dice with Jose Reyes? To Draft or Not to Draft in 2011

Position scarcity and injury risk. These are two frequently used fantasy baseball buzz words. The former is the reason why Jose Reyes is an attractive fantasy option. The latter is the reason why many would not even consider drafting the shortstop. So which side is right? Should you be drafting Reyes or not?

Don’t forget to check out The Fantasy Fix 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

Let’s start with the good. From 2005-2008, Reyes was as good as they get. He averaged 14 HR, 64 SB, 113 R, 66 RBI, and a .287 average. The only recent comparables to that set of numbers would be Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2009 season (slightly less power, slightly better average) or any season Carl Crawford had prior to last year (power, RBI, and average all spiked in 2010). 

Reyes also knows how to take a walk and keeps the strikeout rate down thanks to an above-average contact rate. When healthy, there is really no one quite like Jose Reyes. And Reyes was extremely durable during that ’05-’08 stretch as he had over 700 plate appearances in each season.

But that “when healthy” is the catch with Reyes. After the stretch of durability those four years, Reyes played in only 33 games in 2009 and missed an additional 29 games last year.

You could certainly criticize me for being wary of Reyes’ injury history while simultaneously advocating Troy Tulowitzki as a top five pick despite his three trips to the DL since 2008. However, the types of injuries the two shortstops have sustained separate the two.

Tulo first tore a quadriceps tendon while making a defensive play in 2008. Sure, this type of injury could occur again, but he has had no recurring issues as a result of this injury.

Tulo again saw the DL in ‘08 after he lacerated his palm when slamming a bat to the ground in frustration. This is one of those, dumb, freak, should-not-happen-again type injuries.

And last year Tulo hit the DL with a broken wrist after being hit by a pitch. Something like that could happen to any player and does not indicate Tulo is “injury prone.”

On the other hand, Reyes first suffered a calf injury in 2009, later tore that calf muscle, and then tore a hamstring later in the season. These types of recurring leg injuries tend to make me think “injury prone” more so than the types of injuries Tulo has suffered. Maybe that is the wrong way to look at it, but that is just my perception.

So the ultimate question is this: Does Reyes’ upside and the lack of depth at shortstop outweigh his potential risk of injury? For three reasons, I have to say no.

First, I tend to be a risk-averse fantasy player, and it has always served me well. I would rather build a team full of guys that I can be reasonably certain about what type of production I will get from them.  For those of you that do not mind a little risk, Reyes may be your guy. Your level of risk avoidance is simply a personal preference, but I would recommend you be safe rather than sorry.

Second, is the upside really that high? It’s not like Reyes is going all that late. He is currently going 35th overall according to ESPN’s live draft results. If he was going a little bit later in the range of some other guys who also carry some risk like Justin Morneau (57th) or Jimmy Rollins (62nd), then I would absolutely be willing to take on Reyes’ risk. But with only a couple of rounds of upside, I do not think the risk is worth it.

Finally, there are too many other players going around Reyes that I would rather have. Going directly in front of Reyes are Justin Upton (33) and Shin Soo Choo (34) who I would most certainly rather have than Reyes. Likewise, Adam Dunn and Andrew McCutchen are going right after Reyes. I would even take the next level outfielders like Ichiro Suzuki (45), Jayson Werth (48), and Hunter Pence (55) as well as Clayton Kershaw (38), Justin Verlander (39), Tommy Hanson (46), and Ubaldo Jimenez (47) who are all pitchers going after Reyes.

Moreover, I would rather wait and grab any number of other shortstops including my boyfriend, Alexei Ramirez (87), Stephen Drew (110)and his “a little bit of everything” production, or Jose Reyes-light, Rafael Furcal (138).


Written by Brett Talley exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter    @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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2011 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: A "Closer" Look

“Don’t pay for saves.”

I’m sure that’s a mantra that most, if not all, fantasy baseball players have heard when it comes to drafting closers. The standard logic behind that belief is solid. The early rounds are always used for building the foundation of your offense and choosing stud starting pitchers to help you in wins and strikeouts.

Closers are good for bolstering ERA and WHIP in small doses as well as being your only source of saves. So many closers come into the league on the waiver wire due to injuries and failed attempts, its usually not smart taking closers in the first eight to nine rounds in drafts.

The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account closers that are available a round or two after average. If Mariano Rivera, who typically goes in the late eighth round, is available in the ninth and 10th rounds, he is much more valuable than normal and is worth taking because of the added value.

This concept applies even better with auction drafts where closers are one of the last positions drafted, leaving less money available to spend on them. If Jonathan Papelbon is typically worth $10, he is much more valuable if he can be acquired for $7 late in the auction. The extra $3 is money that can be used to pick up a player like Craig Kimbrel or Brad Lidge. The money you save by pouncing on undervalued closers has a compounding effect on the rest of your team, allowing you to pick up better players than normal later in the draft.

Let’s go ahead and move on to my preseason rankings. For the preseason edition, I’ve included Average Draft Position (ADP) and Average Auction Value (AAV) next to each player. These values come from’s Live Draft Results page from Friday, March 25th.

Don’t forget to check out The Fantasy Fix 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

Rock Solid

1) Mariano Rivera (76.0, $12.0)
2) Heath Bell (77.0, $11.6)
3) Joakim Soria (85.5, $10.8)
4) Brian Wilson (65.7, $13.9)

Above is the consensus top four on most websites (they are also my top four for the year, although I’ve got them in a slightly different order). I put Rivera as the No. 1 closer starting the year as a result of his amazing consistency over the years and the 1.80 ERA/0.83 WHIP combo he put up throughout last year.

Bell’s ADP and AAV are basically identical to Rivera’s and he could easily be considered No. 1A to Rivera’s No. 1. Bell’s 1.20 WHIP last year led me to give the very slight edge to Rivera.

As good of a closer Soria is, I worry about the Royal’s offense and their ability to get leads for him to close out. The lesser number of opportunities put him at No. 3.

Wilson would be ahead of all of them for me, if not for the news that he may miss time at the beginning of the year with a mild oblique strain. Sergio Romo will likely be the guy if Wilson does miss time, and may be worth a late round pick if you choose to take Wilson.

5) Carlos Marmol (94.2, $9.8)
6) Jonathan Papelbon (98.8, $9.4)
7) Francisco Rodriguez (111.1, $8.0)

All three of these guys are well established as closers and have plenty of leash in case of early struggles. They also put up sub-1.20 WHIP numbers last year and are projected for sub-3.25 ERA and sub-1.25 WHIP this year.

I put Marmol at the top of this tier because of his crazy high K/9 rate the last couple years. Papelbon then goes ahead of Rodriguez because of the quality of defense behind Papelbon and the advantage of having the Red Sox offense giving him more opportunities.

A Little Shaky

8) Joe Nathan (120.3, $5.5)
9) Neftali Feliz (94.9, $10.8)
10) J.J. Putz (137.7, $6.1)
11) Huston Street (147.8, $5.0)
12) Chris Perez (151.0, $4.9)

As we go further down this list, the rankings are more about values and less about who is the better pitcher, leading me to place Joe Nathan at the top of this group. Nathan is coming off an injury that had him sit out the vast majority of last year, leaving his previous owners gun shy on drafting him again this year. Going in the 13th round or for about $5, he’s the best value of all the closers in this group and could easily be a top five closer this year.

I moved Neftali Feliz down to nine after all the talk of him entering the starting rotation making him a high risk pitcher, either as a starter or a closer. I will be staying away from him until his role is figured out.

Putz is returning to the closer role in his first year with the Diamondbacks, a role that he was successful in with Seattle in 2006 and 2007. Those two years he had 76 saves in 150 innings pitched with 186 strikeouts, a 1.80 ERA, and 0.80 WHIP. If he’s even close to those numbers this year, he will clearly be a top 10 closer and be a very nice pickup in the 14th round or for $6.

Huston Street has a long leash in Colorado and will get you a good number of saves as well as decent ERA and WHIP numbers. His ERA was a little high last year at 3.61, but if he can come in anywhere below there, he won’t hurt your team ERA.

Chris Perez gave up just two earned runs in 32 innings pitched over the final three months of the season and has the full year to close. It’s hard to imagine him keeping up that torrid pace, but anything close will still be a very successful year.

13) Jonathan Broxton (120.3, $7.2)
14) John Axford (151.6, $5.0)
15) Andrew Bailey (157.9, $5.7)
16) Ryan Franklin (174.6, $3.0)

Each player in this group has a specific concern that could hinder his success.

Broxton last year had high ERA and WHIP numbers (4.04/1.48) and a noticeable decline in strikeouts and saves. If you can get him at $5 or less late in a draft, go ahead and take him; otherwise, he’s a stay away for me.

This will be John Axford’s first full year of closing for the Brewers and his nerves could get the best of him. His 2.48 ERA last year will almost surely rise in full time work at the closer spot.

Andrew Bailey’s spring has been plagued with news of an oblique injury and may miss opening day. He’s not a high strikeout guy, but had great ERA and WHIP numbers last year. If he misses time, Brian Fuentes will likely be the guy and a good source of early cheap saves.

Ryan Franklin is the king of the ugly save but he gets the job done. The defense behind him does a lot of the work, but he does a good job keeping hitters off-balance.

17) Matt Thornton (170.9, $3.4)
18) Jose Valverde (156.6, $4.1)
19) Brad Lidge (170.7, $3.5)

Matt Thornton has been named the closer to start the year for the White Sox over Chris Sale. The 34-year-old southpaw has posted sub-2.75 ERAs and sub-1.10 WHIPs the last three years and has great upside this year in his first year as a closer.

Jose Valverde had 26 saves in just 29 save opportunities and has shown the skill set to close 40+ games in a season. If the Tigers offense can give him more opportunities, his saves should surely rise from the mid-20s the last two years to the mid-30s or even better.

Two years ago, Brad Lidge had an atrocious 7.21 ERA and blew 11 saves, but managed to bounce back last year with a better ERA and WHIP but less saves. The saves should go up quite a bit with the Phillies‘ stud rotation and hopefully the ERA and WHIP will stay low.

In Case of Emergency

20) Drew Storen (184.8, $3.3)
21) Francisco Cordero (153.8, $3.9)
22) Leo Nunez (207.4, $2.0)
23) Brandon Lyon (212.0, $1.6)
24) Kevin Gregg (215.2, $1.6)

Drew Storen has the most upside of anyone on this list, but the Nationals say they will go with closer-by-committee to start the year and Storen has not thrown well in spring training.

Francisco Cordero has Aroldis Chapman waiting in case he were to have a bad stretch and his high ERA and WHIP numbers don’t help his cause.

Leo Nunez is the closer in Florida due to total lack of opposition in the bullpen; he’s fine for a couple bucks at the end of the draft.

Brandon Lyon has yet to prove he can close on a consistent basis and put up good numbers.

Kevin Gregg saved 37 games last year despite a high 1.39 WHIP and is a career 4.03 ERA pitcher.

All of these guys are okay for a couple bucks, but don’t be afraid to dump them when someone better emerges elsewhere.

Other Situations To Watch

– Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters
– Jake McGee/Kyle Farnsworth
– Brandon League/David Aardsma
– Fernando Rodney/Jordan Walden
– Joel Hanrahan/Evan Meek
– Frank Francisco/Jon Rauch


Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit


Written by Jim Dingeman exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter   @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


Check out some of our other NEW Fantasy Baseball articles


2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Mr. 52 Pick Up’s Weekly Big Board & Auction Values

2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview: LA Angels (of Anaheim) Projections & Auction Values

2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview: Chicago White Sox Projections & Auction Values

2011 Fantasy Baseball First Base Showdown: Joey Votto Vs. Adrian Gonzalez

2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview: Oakland Athletics Projections & Auction Values  

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Fantasy Baseball 2011 Team Preview: White Sox Projections & Auction Values

Previously, The Fantasy Fix reviewed and gave projections for the 2011 Chicago White Sox rotation. Now, it’s time to dive in and analyze the Sox positional players.

Call me crazy, but I am picking the White Sox to win the A.L. Central this year. The addition of Adam Dunn will help an already powerful lineup loaded with talent. I see a progression coming for Gordon Beckham, and Alex Rios seems to be finally starting to reach expectations. Questions remain in the pitching department though, which will be the only thing that could hold the Chi Sox back from a American League pennant.

Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Mixed league auction values in parentheses

CATCHER: A.J. PIERZYNSKI ($5) – At age 34 now, A.J. saw a numbers drop in the HR department last year, managing only nine. He has been steady over the last five years posting 500+ AB, which makes me very nervous that he will soon start to breakdown. He will post .270/10/55 numbers, which are decent for your roster as a backup. He should not be drafted in 10-team mixed leagues.

FIRST BASE: PAUL KONERKO ($22) – The once Dodger catching prospect had a unforgettable year in 2010, posting the highest slugging percentage of his career as well as a .312/39/111. Those, my friends, are MVP-like numbers. At age 35, it is logical to expect a regression of some sorts. He will hit in the middle of the lineup, loves hitting at home and will suffer some cold spells. I think a .275/29/100 type season is fair assessment of what his 2011 will look like. He is the 12th first baseman off the boards in ESPN mixed league drafts this year.

SECOND BASE: GORDON BECKHAM ($13) – The former first-round pick was drafted as a shortstop, played third his first year and last year played 126 games at second base. Many are hoping that getting settled into a position will ease his mind and his talent will find its way out. Beckham hit .310 after June 23rd last year and certainly has big potential as a “under the radar” second baseman. Ozzie wants to get him more active on the base paths this year also, so I am going to project him to breakout this year with a .295/15/70 line. If he hits second in the lineup, we can also pencil in 100 runs and 15-20 steals.

SHORTSTOP: ALEXI RAMIREZ ($22) – I absolutely love Ramirez, who won the A.L. Silver Slugger award while leading all A.L. shortstops in the last two years in home runs and RBI. He is also only one of two shortstops the last three years to have 15 HR, 65 RBI, 65 R and 10 steals. He is my top A.L. SS and should be the number four SS off the board in mixed leagues. The SS position is thin, so if you want him he will go in the top seven rounds.


BRENT MOREL ($5) – Brent has been named the opening day starter. He has superior defensive skills to Mark Teahen, unfortunately that does nothing for his fantasy value. He showed a bit of pop in his brief stint with the Chi Sox last year. Getting the starting job helps but probably still not worth drafting in mixed league venues.


MARK TEAHEN ($1) –  Teahen played there last year, but his defense is only so-so. Mark will most likely play some OF and become a utility player. Let someone else draft him.


ALEX RIOS ($21) – Rios is a 5×5 stud, just be prepared for a roller coaster six months. Last year he had a .305 BA, 15 HR and 23 SB before the all-star break. After the break a paltry .258, six HR and six SB. Rios’ season totals showed .284/21/88 which is solid, especially with the 34 total SB. He is currently averaging as the 16th OF taken in mixed league drafts.

JUAN PIERRE ($20) – Pierre, at 33, is an aging base stealer, so I can honestly say do not expect another 68 stolen base season this year. He will help you in batting average and runs (scored 96 last year). I expect the runs number to jump. He is a solid three category player.

CARLOS QUENTIN ($17) – Quentin made it through a full year in 2010 health wise, but it is growing blatantly obvious that his 2008 blockbuster season was a mirage. He hasn’t been able to return to form after the late season hand injury in 2008. Draft him in the mid to late rounds and expect a .255/25/85 line. Make sure you do not over pay for the potential that he seems to never be able to reach.

DESIGNATED HITTER/1B: ADAM DUNN ($25) – If you want power, then he is your man. Dunn has posted seven straight seasons of at least 38 HR and 92 RBI. He also has a .381 career on base percentage. U.S. Cellular Field is a home run hitters paradise so projecting Dunn to hit 50 HR this year is not far fetched. He is the first White Sox player chosen in all draft formats this year. He will go by the end of the third round in 10 team drafts, so if you want him plan on getting him early.


Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit


Written by John Marino exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter  @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


Check out some of our other NEW Fantasy Baseball articles

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview: Minnesota Twins Projections & Auction Values

How many baseball fans know that the Minnesota Twins won one less game than the Yankees last year? Not many, I am sure. This is fantasy land though where wins in real life don’t necessarily translate into fantasy points.

You will not find many Twins going as high as you might think. One thing that is perfectly clear though is that Target Field is holding back many Twins from decent power numbers.

The 2011 version of the Twins isn’t much different than last years team with the only fantasy-wise addition to the offense being Japan’s batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishhioka (can you say that three times fast?).

Will Justin Morneau regain form after his season ending concussion last year? Will Joe Mauer‘s power return? Will Danny Valencia take the next step? Lets take a look!

Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Mixed league auction values in parentheses.


Joe has been the number one catcher off the board in ESPN and CBS leagues this year. He carries questions of health with him, so if you draft him, be prepared for possible injury issues. Target Field is also a problem where Joe hit only one home run at home last year. In this park he will never reach his 2009 power numbers so I am projecting a line of .320/17/90 considering he is healthy for most of the year.



Morneau was having the best season of his career until July when he suffered a concussion sliding into second base. In fact, there were whispers of MVP coming out of the American League into early summer. It still remains to be seen if he can shake the post concussion symptoms and return to his .300/30/100 RBI form. Huge risk-reward candidate here so the call is yours. If you can get him sixth round or later he is a chance worth taking.



He lead Japan last year with a .346 batting average so he can certainly stick the ball. Yoshi will throw a few steals in and will certainly score runs hitting in the two-hole for the Twinkies. Currently he is the 18-20th second sacker off the boards in most leagues so at best now he is fantasy irrelevant until we see what he can do.



Qualifying at both SS and 2B, it looks like the Twins would like to give Casilla another shot to start, but it remains to be seen if he can do anything with his chance. He has no power and doesn’t hit any better than .270. Alexi was a pretty good base stealer in the minor leagues but doesn’t seem to run much at the big league level. He is fantasy irrelevant at this time.


Valencia finished third in the AL in Rookie Of The Year voting last year. He hit .311 in 300 AB while showing some pop later in the season. I think a line of .290/14/75 is in the cards for 2011 which unfortunately places him as the 22nd third baseman off many draft boards.


Young had a breakout year in 2010 going for a .298/21/112 year. Target Field held him to only six home runs though so we can not expect big numbers at least in the HR department. He is a former number one draft pick in 2003 so the potential is there for bigger things from the 25-year-old. Delmon is going in the ninth round or later in most drafts.


Denard will start in CF and lead off for the Twins. He will steal 25-30 bases with 80+ runs and that is where his worth lies. I recommend maybe a flier on him in the late rounds if you need to boost those two categories. His batting average dropped 47 points from last year so it is reasonable to expect him to come back a bit in that category .


Kubel still can’t hit lefties as he has a lifetime .236 average against them. He posted a .249/21/92 line last year. He will play full time and I am projecting a .260/23/85 type year .


Cuddyer qualifies at both first base and the outfield. He had off season knee surgery and should be 100 percent as we start the 2011 season. His HR and RBI totals were down last year. Projections have him around a .280/15/80, being taken right around the same time as Kubel in drafts this year so pick one and roll with him. Early season lineup projections have Cuddyer hitting ahead of Kubel in the lineup.


I am listing Jim out of respect because he still has game at the age of 40. Thome is just fun to watch as he hit a home run one out of every 11 AB last year. He qualifies only at DH so he is limited. I don’t expect another 25 home run year but if you are desperate for homers and Morneau is limited again, he just might reach 20.


Written by John Marino exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter   @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Troy Tulowitzki and Other Draft Day Picks

The best thing about writing for a fantasy baseball site is that any time you get something right there is documentation of your genius. 

For example, because I did not start writing for The Fix until the All-Star break last year, I have no way of proving to you that I had Carlos Gonzalez as a top 70 player in the preseason.

Then again, because there is no documentation, I do not have to face the embarrassment of you knowing that I had Mark Reynolds and Grady Sizemore as top 25 players (at least not until I typed the previous sentence).  

But despite the risk of further embarrassment, I want to go on record about the guys I am all in on and those that I am not touching. 

So here it goes, I am going on record.

Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.

Baby, I’m howlin’ for you – The Black Keys


Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies

Aside from Tulo, Hanley Ramirez and Alexei Ramirez, four other shortstops went in the top 100 of The Fix’s mock draft, and all of them have big question marks.

Jose Reyes (cannot stay on the field), Jimmy Rollins (ditto), Derek Jeter (two words: diminishing returns) and Elvis Andrus (stopped running after May), would all be in the second, and more negative half of this article if they were not in this sentence. 

Because of that positional scarcity, Tulo should be going in the top half of every first round.


Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

Not scared one bit by the off-the-field issues. Still a top-five player and certainly should not be slipping into the second round.


Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees

Teixeira’s rotisserie production in 2010 was slightly off his career averages thanks to a low BABIP (35 points lower than his career BABIP) and a low HR/FB rate (three percent lower than his career rate). 

Some of the “bad luck” may have been Tex’s fault as his Fangraphs page shows he swung at more pitches outside of the zone than in any other year of his career, but he should bounce back closer to his career averages in 2011.


Hunter Pence, OF, Houston Astros

2009: .285, 25 HR, 14 SB

2010: .285, 25 HR, 18 SB

For risk-averse fantasy baseball players like me, this kind of consistency is exactly what I am looking for.


Jered Weaver, SP, Anaheim Angels

Weaver’s excellent 2010 season has made him the No. 17 starting pitcher taken so far in ESPN drafts, but that ranking does not do him justice.

Weaver entered his prime last season and saw his K rate go through the roof (up to 9.35 K/nine), his walk rate improve significantly (down to 2.17 BB/nine) and he saw a six percent increase in ground balls.

Moreover, his BABIP was only a touch on the low side, and his strand rate was right in line with his career average. For my money, Weaver is a top-10 pitcher in 2011.


Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox

See Tulowitzki, Troy.


Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

Here is a classic A versus B sample with combined 2009 and 2010 stats from two second basemen:

Player A:  .265, 64 HR, 6 SB, 184 R, 195 RBI

Player B:  .250, 62 HR, 8 SB, 173 R, 176 RBI

Player A, Dan Uggla, is currently being drafted in the 4th round while Player B, Aaron Hill, is currently being drafted in the 11th round. 

There is a feeling of risk involved with Hill due to his batting average catastrophe in 2010, but The Fix’s own Corey Herron did a very nice job explaining away some of that risk in this piece

If pressed, I would be tempted to take Hill over Uggla straight up, but when given the choice between Uggla or Hill and a fourth round pick, I am taking Hill every time.


Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants


2009 14% 25 .330 .350

2010   7% 13 .268  .291

Just in case you are not catching my drift, HR/FB rate gets cut in half and home runs get cut in half.

Likewise, BABIP drops almost 60 points, and batting average drops a little over 60 points.  I would say some sort of rebound may be in order for Mr. Sandoval.


Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

From 2009 to 2010, Wieters saw his walks increase, his strikeouts decrease and his ISO did not dip despite a decrease in line drive rate (a wildly unpredictable stat).

And I know I cite BABIP way too frequently, but a 70 point drop in the statistic from his original stint in the majors during 2009 to last season caused his average to tumble below .250.

The kid is only going to turn 25 in May, so there is still time for growth. I will be taking my chances on all the upside at a premium position.


Jorge de la Rosa, SP, Colorado Rockies 

If de la Rosa can stay on the mound and make at least 30 starts, you are looking at 175+ strikeouts.

In the 23rd round (where de la Rosa is currently going) is the potential of quality to elite production in one category not worth a flier?

I am betting on Jorge’s health and hoping for the K’s.


Omar Infante, 2B/SS, Florida Marlins

Speaking of elite production in a single category being available very late in drafts, I give you Omar Infante. 

In his last 674 at-bats (well over a full season’s worth of AB’s), Infante has hit .316.

With a full time job in Florida at second base, Infante is a really nice middle infield option this season, even in standard mixed leagues.


Don’t wanna be a fool for you – N’Sync


Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees 

A-Rod has not played in 140 games in the last three years, and his batting average in those three years has gone from .302 to .286 to .270.

At 35 and entering his 15th full season, A-Rod is way too much of an injury/decline risk to be going in the second or third round.


Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves 

Heyward is going to be great, but he is not great yet.

However, because he has as much name value as a prospect can possibly have, expectations are not tempered as they usually are with younger players.

For example, last season another rookie, Drew Stubbs, hit four more home runs, stole 19 more bases and drove in as well as scored more runs than Heyward.

Yet Stubbs is currently going six rounds later than Heyward.

I am not saying I would rather have Stubbs, but I sure would think about it. Heyward will be great at some point, I just want to see it before I pay for it.


Dan Uggla, 2B, Atlanta Braves

See Hill, Aaron.


The Texas Rangers

To begin with, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz all scare me because of their inability to stay on the field.

The trio has missed 267 games combined over the last two seasons. 

Mike Napoli is also a stay-away because you should be able to find a catcher in a 10-team mixed league that is sure to accumulate 500 at-bats.

With Mitch Moreland, Michael Young, Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor taking at-bats in the three positions Napoli can fill, I am not sure Napoli will get enough AB’s to be a top 10 option in shallow mixed leagues.

What do I have against Colby Lewis? In a word…Japan. And CJ Wilson threw 130 more innings in 2010 than he did in 2009. No thanks.


David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays 

Speaking of big innings jumps, Price jumped up 46 innings last year. Add to that the low-ish BABIP, the high strand rate and the low HR/FB rate, and Price is a pass for me as well.


Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals 

For the sake of making my point, let us say that a player provides “elite” production in a category if they are in the top 10 percent of that category, “quality” production if they are in the top quarter and “good” production if they are in the top half.

By those standards, in 2010, Butler gave you elite production in only one category (batting average), quality production in no categories, good production in runs and RBI, below average production in the home run department and no production via steals.

That is a really long-winded way of saying that Butler is a single category producer.

Single category guys are not top 100 players (Butler is currently 93rd in ESPN ADP).

I would rather wait 11 rounds and take the aforementioned Omar Infante to fill my corner infield spot.


Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox 

(Insert standard low BABIP, high strand rate fantasy analysis here.) Oh, and the 17 wins in 28 starts Buchholz had in 2010 were also extremely lucky.


Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates 

First of all, his K rate (34.3 percent in 2010) is going to have to get under 30 percent before I am buying Alvarez’s staying power.

Also, the fact that a .341 BABIP only helped Alvarez to a .256 average is also a big red flag.

Like Jason Heyward, Alvarez may well be a fantasy stud, but I have got to see it before I will believe it.


Written by BRETT TALLEY exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter  @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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Fantasy Baseball Preview: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays Projections and Auction Values

Previously, The Fantasy Fix reviewed and gave projections for the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays rotation. Now, it’s time to dive in and analyze the Rays’ positional players.

Don’t forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

The Tampa Rays have some new faces this year in adding Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Gone are Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena.

Will Manny have a resurgence just to prove he can still do it? Is Johnny Damon washed up? Offensively, I find it hard to get excited about anyone on this team except for Evan Longoria, Ramirez and maybe B.J. Upton.

I do know that the Rays are definitely the least interesting fantasy team in the A.L. East.


Mixed League Rotisserie Auction Values in Parentheses 

CATCHER: JOHN JASO ($5) – Nothing about Jaso excites me, to be honest. He may split time with Kelly Shoppach, although Jaso is expected to become the starter eventually.

Jaso hit .272 and did score some runs when hitting atop the Rays’ lineup last year. Do not pick him in your 12 team draft, he will be on the waiver wire. 


FIRST BASE: DAN JOHNSON ($2) – No one still knows yet who will be the Rays’ Opening Day first baseman. Johnson will compete with Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist for the postion. Johnson has shown some power at the major league level but that is it. He is not the answer, so avoid him.

CASEY KOTCHMAN ($3) – Can’t get excited about Mr. Kotchman either at first base, as he struggled all last year with Seattle with a .217 BA in over 400 AB’s. Not worth drafting.


SECOND BASE: SEAN RODRIGUEZ ($7) – Sean was the darling of last year’s spring training season and was a “sleeper” pick on many early season draft boards.

Unfortunately, his spring didn’t quite translate into regular season stardom. Rodriguez had trouble with righties only hitting .229 against them, so, if improvement isn’t made, we may see him in a platoon situation again. He is fairly raw, so there is plenty of upside, and he also qualifies in the OF this year. 


SHORTSTOP: REID BRIGNAC ($7) – Reid is projected to be the starting shortstop for the Rays. He qualifies at both second base and shortstop in all leagues. He doesn’t hit for average but has show some power capability.

Stat projections for a full year have him around 15-16 home runs and 70-plus RBIs. Those are pretty good numbers if you believe in him. It appears that most people do not though. He is the 22nd SS off the board in ESPN leagues. 


THIRD BASE: EVAN LONGORIA ($37) – Evan has supplanted Alex Rodriguez as the top third sacker in the American League and arguably the major leagues. He is the No. 1 third baseman on my draft board.

Longoria contributes in all five categories. Evan’s numbers included a line of .294/22/104/96/15. He had a slight drop in home runs from 2009. He is still only 25 years old, so the sky is the limit. He is going in the first round in most drafts, so if you want him, be prepared to get him very early.



OUTFIELD: MANNY RAMIREZ ($21) – A move back into the American League East could be all Manny needs to get himself going again. Manny’s value is completely dependent on where you can draft him.

Most ADP’s I’ve seen have Ramirez slated in the 12th round or later. If you can get him there or later, by all means, take a chance. I’m going out on a limb projecting a .290/28/90 season. 


B.J.UPTON ($17) – Shall we say it again? Is this the year B.J. finally breaks out? He will get your team plenty of steals (42 last year), score some runs and drive in 70-plus but will kill you in batting average. Upton strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough. His ADP is around the seventh round. Ninth round or later seems about right to me. 


BEN ZOBRIST ($15) – I am not sure the Rays have definitely set on a first basemen yet, so Ben may play first, although he already qualifies at second base and the outfield. Ben’s consistency is an issue as his HR, RBI, BA and R totals all dropped from 2009, so projecting him is a difficult task.

I think a .265/15/75 season with 25 steals is in reach, which makes him a valuable multi-positional player. ADP is averaging about the ninth round in 10-team leagues in ESPN drafts. 


DESMOND JENNINGS ($11) – Just how much Desmond is used is the key to his value. He has been billed as the next Carl Crawford with his decent power and super fast running skills. Jennings swiped 52 bases in 2009 and 37 at the AAA level. Keep an eye on him as a bonafide sleeper early in the 2010 season.


JOHNNY DAMON ($8) – Damon’s best years are clearly behind him, so please do not overpay for the name on draft day. Johnny, now 37, has shown a decrease in stats the last two years since getting out of Yankee Stadium. His line will most likely look like .265/11/50 with maybe 10 steals. 


MATT JOYCE ($2) – Joyce has shown some power, blasting 10 home runs in just over 200 AB’s last year. Playing time is a problem here, though, and with a crowded OF situation, Matt is just an afterthought right now. Watch for some injuries to the starters, then take a shot if you need some help in the HR/RBI categories.


Written by John Marino exclusively for

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Jeremy Hellickson & the Prospect Pitching Preview

When projecting the 2011 fantasy value of prospects with little or no major league service time, their value is tied as much to opportunity as it is to ability. For example, prospects like Mike Trout and Shelby Miller have as much ability as anyone in the minors but will not see the big leagues until at least 2012. 

The following list of pitching prospects (max 16 MLB starts) contains the guys with the best current combination of opportunity and ability.

The cream of the crop is Jeremy Hellickson. Not that I am breaking any news with that statement, but I would be remiss in assuming every reader knows that Hellickson is at the top of this list is a given. 

The Tampa Bay prospect has produced at every level of the minor leagues posting fantastic strikeout numbers and displaying excellent control. One thing I particularly like about Hellickson is that he has logged more than 550 innings over five years in the minors. He has gone through the development process and is not simply being thrown to the fire. Plus, Hellickson will not just be the best of the prospects—he has the ability to jump right into the SP top-40.

After Hellickson, the fantasy value drops off somewhat. However, the opportunity is still there for the next four prospects that play on lesser teams with shallow rotations.  Michael Pineda, Kyle Drabek, James McDonald and Carlos Carrasco are all likely to be in big league rotations out of Spring Training in large part due to a lack of competition for those rotation spots. 

Kyle Drabek gets a ton of prospect attention because he is the son of a former major league pitcher, he was a first round pick in 2006, and because he was one of the prospects involved in the Roy Halladay trade.  But all that attention has probably made Drabek overrated.  

First of all, Drabek may not be able to provide the strikeouts that usually come with highly touted pitching prospects. In over 250 innings at AA, Drabek has posted a K/9 around 7.25. Not an awful number by any means, but it is likely to dip below 7.00 at the major league level. Drabek has also struggled with control at times. Last year he walked close to four batters per nine in 162 innings.  

The other thing that concerns me is that all these numbers I am quoting to you come from AA.  Unlike Hellickson, Drabek has not made stops at every level of the minors. He has never seen AAA and is now skipping the level and going straight to a big league rotation. A year at AAA would probably serve Drabek well, but after Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, and Marc Rzepczynski the Blue Jays have only Drabek and Jesse Litsch (career 4.54 K/9) to choose from in order to fill out their rotation.  You can certainly understand why the Jays would want to see if Drabek is ready to produce at the major league level rather than rolling with Litsch.

According to Jim Bowden, Michael Pineda is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the Mariners rotation.  Like Hellickson, Pineda has produced big strikeout numbers in the minors while displaying excellent control. However, like Drabek, Pineda could probably use more seasoning in the minors as he has pitched less than 150 innings combined between AA and AAA. 

If Pineda does in fact end up with a spot in the big league rotation out of spring training, do not fall into the trap of assuming big name prospects are major league ready. Take a wait-and-see approach with Pineda in mixed leagues, but feel free to hope his upside is realized sooner rather than later in AL-only leagues.

James McDonald seems to be a popular prospect here at The Fix as he showed up in Adam Ganeles’ sleeper list in our Draft Kit (BUY IT HERE!) and Jesse Mendelson mentioned him as a potential sleeper in recent article previewing the Pittsburgh pitching staff. And I’m with Adam and Jesse on McDonald.  

The former Dodger prospect produced well above average strikeout numbers at every level of the minor leagues (again, I like the fact that McDonald spent time at A, AA, and AAA), and his ability to miss bats so frequently may be why Bill James, tangotiger, and the Fangraphs fan projections all have McDonald projected to post a sub-4.00 ERA in 2011. 

Wins may be hard to come by playing for the Pirates and a high walk total may result in a 1.35ish WHIP, but if McDonald is able to strikeout close to a batter per inning with a sub-4.00 ERA, he will be a solid NL-only option and a nice spot starter in mixed leagues.

Carlos Carrasco is sure to have a spot in what may be baseball’s worst rotation in Cleveland.  He has certainly put in his time in the minors (over 300 innings at AAA), but he has not had quite the same level of production as some of the other prospects discussed above.

On the plus side, Carrasco has been good in the strikeout department and has induced a lot of ground balls in his short stints in the majors. On the flip side, control may be a problem. Walks have been an issue at times for Carrasco, and he may be a WHIP liability. He is not even flier-worthy in mixed leagues, but could be a useful back-of-the-rotation guy in AL-only leagues.

Finally, Julio Teheran (Braves), Manny Banuelos (Yankees) and Jordan Lyles (Astros) are three young prospects who have tons of ability and would have made this list if they had a little more opportunity. Each guy could receive a call-up at some point later in the season, so those of you in deeper leagues should place them on your watch list and keep an eye on their progress.

Written by Brett Talley exclusively for 


Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter    @thefantasyfix or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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