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Fantasy Draft Strategy: The Case for Hanley at No. 1

The consensus number one pick in nearly every draft you participate in or read about is Albert Pujols. And rightly so; the guy has been putting up monster numbers year in and year out for quite some time.

This is not going to be a post knocking Albert Pujols as the number one guy. This is going to be a post explaining why I don’t think it’s a one-man race for that top pick and why Hanley Ramirez should be in the discussion and considered if you have the first pick.

Last year was what many consider a down year for Hanley Ramirez and a slight bit disappointing. Let’s look at exactly what Hanley did in this down year:

.300 Batting Average
92 Runs Scored
21 Home Runs
76 Runs Batted In
32 Stolen Bases
.378 On-Base Percentage
.475 Slugging Percentage

Those aren’t bad numbers to have in a down year.

But I also realize they are not numbers indicative of a number one overall pick in fantasy baseball. However, even those numbers would have likely put Hanley in the top 10 to 15 among all players in terms of a standard “5×5” rotisserie league. And when people say he had a down year, it isn’t just an excuse; there are several indicators that point to a boost from last year in nearly all categories.

For starters, Hanley’s .300 batting average last year was his lowest since his 2006 rookie campaign. But his BABIP was .327, exactly 20 points below his career BABIP and the lowest total of his career. Considering his speed and natural ability, it’s not hard to think he could get his BABIP back to where it usually is and get his batting average closer to .320 than the .300 he had last year.

As far as the regressed power numbers, they are largely tied to the fact that he hit significantly fewer fly balls. This is why Hanley posted his second-highest HR/FB rate of his career despite hitting the fewest home runs since his rookie year. If Hanley can bring his fly ball percentage of 32.7 percent up to the 40 percent he achieved in the past, it should bring his home run totals back closer to 30 and put Hanley in line for another 30/30 season, which I am certain would not be his last.

Now that we have looked at what Hanley should be able to do this year, let’s talk about some of the reasons you would take him over Albert Pujols if you had the first pick in the draft.

There is no question that Pujols is the best player, but Hanley is arguably the most well-rounded player and hands down the best five-tool guy on your board. With his move to the middle of the order, Hanley is contributing runs batted in without losing too many stolen bases, and if the guys around him take a step forward this year, he could be in line for 90–100 RBI.

With that stat production, there is nowhere that Hanley cannot contribute in a standard “5×5” league. Pujols is in a league of his own, but there are a few guys who can come close to matching his across-the-board contributions; there is no one else that can do what Hanley Ramirez does.

You also have to consider the issue of position scarcity as well. If you have the first pick in the draft and you don’t take Hanley Ramirez you’re also going to miss out on Troy Tulowitzki. After him, you have a collection of question marks and guys you really don’t want to have to take at shortstop.

Meanwhile, you’re comparing that with first base, which is easily the deepest position there is. Who would you rather have with your first two picks: Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez and Prince Fielder? And if you don’t like Fielder you can also probably choose Kevin Youkilus in that second round based on early ADP’s. 

Obviously, there is no rule saying you have to take a shortstop in the first two rounds. But the talent level after Hanley and Tulo falls off significantly, while it’s still possible to get a 30 HR, 100 RBI first baseman in the fifth round.

Am I saying Hanley should be the number one pick? Not necessarily—unless you are in a keeper league; bear in mind he is still just 27.

But I do think you have to consider him an option with the first pick of the draft and if you do take him, I won’t be the guy calling you crazy. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him considered the number one player overall in fantasy baseball at the end of the year.

So what do you think of Hanley at number one? Is it foolish to even consider someone other than Albert Pujols? Are you still hung up on Hanley’s “down year?” Let us know what you think.

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

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Fantasy Baseball: An Early Look At Average Draft Position

I do realize it is still January and this report is based on very early mock drafts that are currently taking place on Mock Draft Central. Doing mock drafts, even now, is something I recommend, as it will give you a good idea of where players are going in order to prepare you for where to take the guys you want in your real draft.

Back to the point, even though these average draft positions are early results, it’s still important to monitor, and even early reports can be useful to get a feel for how a majority of people are valuing a guy.

It’s one thing to read about where I would rank a certain guy, or where the esteemed Rotoprofessor would rank a guy, but you have to keep tabs on where everyone else ranks them and learn where the steals are going to be at and where to avoid overpaying.

So here is a look at who is being overvalued and who is being undervalued according to early ADP.



Alfonso Soriano (ADP: 99 OVR, 25 OF): Chalk this one up to name value. No matter how you slice it Alfonso Soriano just isn’t one of the top 100 fantasy baseball players anymore. His batting average the last two years is a combined .247, he is no longer even a double digit steals threat and his power is on the decline. You never want to overvalue a guy based on what he used to be; you don’t get any points for having formerly great players on your team.

Rickie Weeks (ADP: 40 OVR, 5 2B): I’m not going to take anything away from what Rickie Weeks did last year. He was finally able to stay healthy for a full season and he was awfully impressive in what he did. And I also recognize that second base is a weak position.

But Rickie Weeks is not a top 40 player. There is a gap of over 13 picks between Weeks and Ian Kinsler, and I don’t think Weeks should be taken over Kinsler or Dan Uggla, who have proven more than once what they’re capable of. It’s not that I don’t like Weeks. I wouldn’t mind owning him, but I won’t cause I won’t be willing to take him where a lot of other people are.

Carlos Marmol (ADP: 70 OVR, 2 RP): It might look like I am hating on the Cubs, but I’m really not. Marmol has the potential to dominate unlike any other pitcher in baseball. Last year he struck batters out at a clip of 16 per nine innings. But he also walked six batters per nine innings and it’s going to be tough to maintain a 2.45 ERA if he keeps that up. Marmol is certainly worth the risk of owning him, I just wouldn’t make him the No. 2 closer off the board like many others apparently are doing.

Chad Billingsley (ADP: 84.3 OVR, 20 SP): After some struggles in 2009, Billingsley bounced back very nicely in 2010 and put up a solid stat line. However, I think what we got from Billingsley is what we’re going to continue to get from him. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it falls short of the ace stuff so many people projected from him early on, and I think a lot of people are still valuing him based on those early projections.

I have a ton of room on my team for a guy with a 3.50 ERA and 170-plus strikeouts. I’m just not sold on taking him over guys like Jered Weaver, Matt Cain and Roy Oswalt, who are all going after him on average.



Chris B. Young (ADP: 168.5 OVR, 44 OF): Mr. Young apparently doesn’t have too many believers in the near 30/30 season he put up last year. If you owned him in 2009 and got completely burned by him, you might be hesitant, and there is reason to proceed with caution. However, he looked to find his rhythm at the plate last season, and based on his potential, he should really not be passed up for guys like Ryan Ludwick and Jason Kubel.

Kurt Suzuki (ADP: 182.16, 11 C): A steady stream of injuries kept Suzuki from getting into a groove last year at the plate, and a career-low .245 BABIP contributed to his head scratching batting average of .242. Despite that, Suzuki still showed his power potential with 13 home runs and 71 RBI, and there is no doubt he is capable of 16-17 home runs and 70-80 RBI. He’ll also bring that batting average back up closer to .270.

Those numbers might not be too catchy at most positions, but for a catcher, it’s certainly worth more than No. 11 off the board.

Jhonny Peralta (ADP: 230.8 OVR, 24 SS): When you get to this point in the draft, you have to start looking for guys with upside. While Peralta has regressed since his 2008 campaign, he still has some upside, especially stacked up next to the likes of Miguel Tejada, who is going an average of three rounds higher. Peralta could be the guy in Detroit hitting sixth behind Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and that’s a pretty favorable spot to be in for RBI opportunities.

Shortstop is one of the weaker positions out there, and certainly what Peralta brings to the table is better than 24th among shortstops. I have Peralta as a top 15 shortstop, so at this point he is a great value.

Ricky Nolasco (ADP: 214.2 OVR, 66 SP): The last two seasons have been rough for Nolasco, with 5.06 and 4.51 ERA’s, respectively. But what he is capable of doing should have him higher on the ADP chart that he is right now. This could be a cause of small sample size on the list, or people just being gun shy considering the last couple of seasons. My guess is that it is a little bit of both.

Part of the problem recently has been bad luck, with a BABIP against hovering the .330 mark the last two seasons. If even just that changes, coupled with Nolasco’s control, he should be able to get the ERA under four. Drafting him at this kind of spot would be one of the steals of the draft.

What are your thoughts on these guys? Do you think they’re being taken where they should or are they off? If so where would you take some of them? Give us your feedback and any questions or comments you have.

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Six Players To Buy For The Second Half

Part of having success in fantasy baseball is having the right guys on your team at the right time. Some guys like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera hit anytime, so there is no peak point for them. Then there are guys who are just better for one reason or another at a certain point of the season. Here are six guys who have proven throughout their careers to be better hitters once the second half rolls around. Some of them are guys you can get off waivers and some are guys you may have to trade for, but if they can produce the same second half’s as they have in the past, they could be the kind of guys to help carry you to the top of your league in the second half.

Adam LaRoche: He is one of the most dramatic first to second half split guys you’ll find out there. From 2007 – 2009 LaRoche’s first half batting average is .246, his second half average is .309. LaRoche’s power also takes a jump with a HR per every 25.6 ABs in the first half and 19.5 in the second half of the last three seasons. Add to it that he is still available in 20% of ESPN leagues and could be traded to a better lineup and he’s a welcome addition who should come quite cheaply.

Nick Markakis: The splits for Markakis between first and second half aren’t as dramatic as some, but what the trends show is that he does find a bit more power as the season goes on. Last year he went from a homer every 43.9 ABs to one every 29.1 ABs. Not a tremendous number, but it’s an increase. We’re already seeing Markakis getting hot with 3 HRs in just half this month so far. He’s never going to be an elite power guy, but he does tend to find the fences a bit more as the weather warms up.

Magglio Ordonez: His second half batting averages the last three years are as follows: .358 in ‘07, .330 in ‘08 and .375 in ‘09. In those three years he has just as many homeruns and almost as many RBI in the second half despite 135 less ABs than the first. He’s aging and at some point in his career you’d think this trend would start going the other way as his body can’t handle the stress of the season, but until you see that happening he’s a good guy to own. He should push once again for 20 HRs and 100 runs and RBI. I think you can get him for less than he’s worth in a trade in many leagues.

Billy Butler: The guy with all the promise in the world has had two big second halves the last two years and if he does it again this year he could compete for the batting title by the end of the year. Last year Butler hit .314 with 13 HRs and 55 RBI. That is a homerun every 22 ABs, a considerable amount better than his 36.6 he has so far this year which is close to the 40.1 he had in the first half last year. Expect the batting average to stay up there, but hopefully we’ll once again see some of the power we’ve all been longing for from Butler.

Mark Ellis: This one is a bit of a stretch perhaps since he’s owned in less than 2% of ESPN leagues, but Mark Ellis is a second half sleeper. I touted him as a preseason sleeper as well and so far it hasn’t worked out that great. He has a tendency to get it done in the second half. Last year he hit .279 with 7 HRs, 43 RBI, 38 Rs and 7 SBs. Those kind of numbers over two months are bordering on top ten 2B territory. He battled a lot of injuries in 2008s second half, but if you go back to 2007 he had even better numbers then 2009 hitting .286 with 11 HRs, 35 RBI and 48 Rs. There are a lot of middle infielders on the shelf right now and if Ellis puts up the kind of second half numbers he has put up throughout his career he could be usable in many leagues.

Nyjer Morgan: He’s still pretty young into his career to peg him as a second half hitter, but early signs point to him making the most noise in the later stages of the season. In 2008 Morgan batted .347 in the second half and scored 20 runs despite not getting regular playing time until September. Than in 2009, before losing the whole month of September to injury, Morgan hit .365 with 29 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. He hasn’t gotten on base as much as you’d like this year, but hopefully that can change in the second half and with it will undoubtedly come with load of steals as well.

So here are the hitters I have found to be potential second half breakouts. Obviously this isn’t everyone, so who are you banking on for a big second half for your teams? Someone on this list or someone else, let’s hear your thoughts for the second half of fantasy baseball.


Make sure to check out our recent Scouting Reports:

And look out tomorrow for the 6 pitchers to grab as well.

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Fantasy Baseball Stock Report: Week 10

Here is your Week 10 fantasy stock report, as we take a look at some of the risers and fallers in the fantasy baseball stock market and what you should do with them if you have them or want them.


Whose Stock Is Up:

Marlon Byrd (15-for-29, 8 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI): He got off to a red hot start this year and was owned in every league by the end of April. He struggled during the month of May, slumping pretty hard at points, and started to get dropped in leagues.

Now, in the last week, he’s been added again and is closing in on 100 percent ownership once more.

He’s got solid pop, a little speed, and he’s been scoring runs. He’s a solid fourth or fifth outfielder in leagues that use as many. He is streaky, so you may want someone decent to plug in when he hits a cold spell, but don’t make the mistake others did last month and drop him during one of those streaks.

Austin Kearns (10-for-25, 8 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB): Austin Kearns is having a solid year so far in Cleveland and has earned himself a spot on deep league teams, but is this all a fluke, or can he maintain this kind of season?

His BABIP is over .400, so you have to think the average is going to dip down, probably a good 20–30 points. The power numbers are legitimate, and he is capable of 20 HRs and 80 RBI. As for the speed, don’t expect too much more. His spot is in deep leagues and possibly a fringe guy in standard leagues.

Erick Aybar (15-for-31, 7 R, 5 RBI, 1 SB): He’s a steady three-category contributor who flies under the radar a bit. He was a Top 100 prospect all through his Minor League career.

He has elite speed with the potential for 40 steals, he just has to become a smarter baserunner and refine his approach to avoid getting caught as much as he does.

He’s one of the top run-scoring shortstops, and as the Angels heat up, so will he. Available in about 25 percent of leagues, I think his upside pushes him ahead of guys like Orlando Cabrera, Marco Scutaro, and Alex Gonzalez, who are all owned in more leagues.

Carlos Pena (9-for-24, 9 R, 6 HR, 9 RBI): We knew it was only a matter of time before he went on a homer run like this one. Pena has that elite raw power that very few people possess. Unfortunately, despite this hot streak his batting average is below .200, and he is still striking out a ton, which is usual for him.

The good news is his BABIP is currently .206 and his career average is .283, so the average should keep going up, the bad news is he’s still a career .244 hitter who will always strike out a lot.

If you need power, he will probably still come cheap despite this streak, because of the average and strikeouts, but be prepared to take a hit to your BA. If you have guys to carry his poor average or you’re already too far behind to catch up in that category than he might be a guy to target.

Josh Hamilton (9-for-24, 5 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI): The Josh Hamilton of 2009 seems to be gone and the Josh Hamilton of 2008 is back, or at least close to it.

He’s hitting for power, he’s hitting for average, and most importantly he’s hitting with runners on at a .358 clip. That’s currently 40 points higher than 2008, when he knocked in more runs than anyone else in baseball.

He’s not even being mentioned in the conversation with the top outfielders, but he’s on pace for 30 HRs and 110 RBI; he’s one of the top outfield options.


Whose Stock Is Down:

Starlin Castro (4-for-25, 1 R, 1 RBI): This 20-year-old came into the big leagues with a big debut and caught everyone’s attention doing it. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a history of power and he’s not stealing bases right now.

He has a big future and will be a .300 hitter with 30 steals and 10–15 home runs within a couple years, but if you’re not in a keeper league or a deep league, he’s probably not a guy you need to own right now.

Jose Bautista (0-for-19, 1 R): Bautista already has a career high in home runs and it’s only June, so I think we all knew a slump like this was coming. Bautista has power, but he’s never had the kind of power that we’ve seen this year, and I’m not sure he can sustain it.

His home-run-per-fly-ball rate is twice his career rate right now, and he’s getting the ball in the air a lot more than usual as well.

It’s been great to have the power he’s brought, but I think if you can sell him high, it’s in your best interest. The average is going to hurt you and I don’t think he can maintain the power, or even close to it.

Adam Laroche (3-for-23, 3 RBI): He’s basically doing what he’s done for the past few years and nothing more. He’s struggling right now, but Laroche is consistently a solid, but not spectacular player, and this year should provide more of the same.

He’s a bit under his career average, and it should get a little bit better, as his .323 BABIP should lead to a higher average than his current .245 average. He’s really a fringe guy in standard leagues, but he’s a consistent enough performer to own in anything deeper.

Jason Bay (1-for-20, 1 R): I don’t think anyone who drafted Bay expected to get the most contribution from him in steals and runs scored, but that’s what’s happening.

We all assumed his power numbers would take a hit going to Citi Field, but only homering in two games so far is a bit ridiculous, and he’s not driving people in either, as he is hitting .227 with runners in scoring position.

You don’t really want to drop Bay cause it seems inevitable that he’s going to turn it around, but right now he’s not better than a third or fourth outfielder.

Adam Lind (3-for-22, 1 R, 1 RBI): Lind is struggling, and struggling hard right now, especially against lefties, whom he is hitting .109 against; there’s no way he can keep playing against left-handers if that keeps up.

But keep in mind he does have a .248 BABIP and a 8.1% HR/FB ratio, which shows that he’s been a bit unlucky and the numbers should be improving, hopefully sooner than later for his owners.

I doubt you’re going to get much in return for him at this point, so your best bet is to hold tight and wait for the turn around.

What does everyone else think about guys like Lind and Bay? What are you doing with guys you drafted so high, who are producing the way they are? What about some of the hotter hitters, anyone you’re buying into? Let’s hear your feedback. 


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Win Your Fantasy League: 10 Tips For Making Better Trades

One of the best parts of fantasy baseball is trading. There is just something so satisfying about working out a deal that is both exciting and sometimes nerve wrecking.

But don’t be fooled, trading in fantasy baseball is not a crap shoot—it’s an art, and if you can become a good trader you’re going to stand a lot better chance of finding your name at the top of the standings.

Here are ten tips to become a better fantasy baseball trader.


1. Patience Pays Off

Don’t get frustrated when the first deal you offer someone doesn’t go through, and don’t always assume you have to accept the first deal you’re offered just because your team needs help.

Sometimes it takes a lot of work to make a deal happen and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve spent a week or two going back and forth with people trying to work out just the right deal—your goal is to not settle and get the most out of a deal as possible.

If you are working with someone who is cooperative then feel free to take your time. When you get offered a deal let the other person know why you’re not accepting and who you like and don’t like in the deal and then make a counter offer. Chances are if they don’t like your counter they’ll at least have the courtesy to do the same as you and the more information on the table the easier it’ll be to work something out.

Just like in the big leagues, it doesn’t always happen right away. In fact, in my experience, I rarely have my first offer accepted or accept someone else’s for that matter. 



Shop Around

If you’re going to trade a big name player, don’t make it exclusive to one team.

I am in a 16-team league where my hitting is stacked and my pitching is mediocre. I tried trading Carl Crawford, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira and wasn’t getting good value back. I had Hanley, but didn’t want to trade him.

I got an intriguing offer and realized I might have to move Hanley. Instead of taking that offer without any other considerations I sent out a league wide e-mail letting everyone know that I was willing to move Hanley and what I wanted to get in return (which brought out more offers).

Ultimately, the original guy came through with the best offer, but it was better than the first offer because he knew I was getting other offers and I was letting him know.


It’s All About Value

It’s not about how you value someone but how the guy who has him does.

Just because you think Jayson Werth is a Top 10 outfielder doesn’t mean the guy who has him thinks so. We often pay what we think a guy is worth when the other guy may think he’s worth far less.

This goes with a tip that’ll come later, but feel the owner out on a guy and figure out what he thinks of the player you want and than offer the trade. You never, ever, want to give up more than what you have to.

Last year I wanted Cliff Lee and I sent a guy an e-mail asking what he’d want. He offered me Lee for Stephen Drew which I accepted in a heartbeat. I would have never thought to offer that, but he overvalued Drew and undervalued Lee and I came out the winner.


Start Low

Don’t start negotiations with your best offer. Start low and let the other guy counter to something more realistic, cause every once in a while your low ball offer will get accepted.

Everyone assumes that the first offer isn’t the best offer so chances are they’re going to decline and counter for something better. Start low and then when you get to what you’re actually willing to give, the other guy will think he’s getting a good deal.

Just don’t go so low with your offers that no one wants to deal with you. Hardcore fantasy baseball players don’t want their intelligence insulted with horrid offers.


Choose Your Trading Partner Wisely

One of the keys to trading is finding just the right partner. There are two things you want to look for when choosing someone to trade with.

The first of them is their position in the standings. You’re going to have a lot more luck trading with someone who is struggling than the guy at the top of the league who is terrified of tweaking a team that is excelling. Take advantage of the guy who can’t get out of last place, he is much more likely to do something drastic to shake things up.

The second thing to do is find a team who needs what you have and are willing to give. If your trying to trade Adrian Beltre don’t shop him to the team who has Ryan Zimmerman, find the guy who has a platoon of Brandon Inge and Andy Laroche.

If someone needs a player badly enough, the value of your player goes up tremendously. Exploit that as much as you possibly can.


Sell It

Make your trade sound as appealing as possible. Find a way to rationalize the deal and give the other team a reason to accept. It’s up to you to convince them that what you’re giving them will help them get better, even if you don’t believe it.

I traded Ryan Ludwick for Elvis Andrus earlier this season and I sold Ludwick and the fact that he was in the same lineup as Holliday and Pujols. I made it sound like he was going to be a top 10 outfielder.

Apparently my sell job worked. Again, it’s not what you think, but what they think. Your job is to influence their thinking.


Know Your Team

While you have to consider a player’s value to another team, you also have to be aware of their value to your team.

If you can only play three OF’s and you have three guys better than someone like Bobby Abreu, than Abreu doesn’t have as much value. You should try and move him for as much as you can get, but ultimately getting someone who you are going to play is going to be more valuable than Abreu is on the bench.



Know Your Standings

This is staying with the theme of know your team, and with that, you have to know your standings. You should be checking the standings on a regular basis and staying aware of what exactly your team needs in the way of stat categories and what you can afford to lose.

One of the best fantasy baseball tips I have ever gotten was that it doesn’t matter if you win a category by one or 100. You don’t get bonus points for having 100 more homeruns than anyone else does.

This applies more around the end of June when you know what categories you are running away with and which one you might have no chance to catch up in. If you are not going to catch anyone in saves and you have that one closer, trade him.

Right around the end of June you need to make note of which categories you can still realistically make up a lot of ground in and aim to get better there. Right now you have a chance by keeping an eye on things to hopefully avoid getting taken out of the running in a category.

More often than not the teams who win the leagues I am in are the teams who are well balanced and scoring in every category.


Keep Your Poker Face On

The team you are trading with doesn’t need to know how much you like the guy you are getting or how much you dislike the guy you are trading away. This is part of selling a trade—convincing the other guy you either do or don’t value a particular player in a way that he or she does.

If a guy sends me an offer and says, “I absolutely love Choo, what do you want for him,” I have a big smile on my face because I instantly know I can take advantage of this guy.

Don’t tell the guy who has the player you want that you love him—always undersell and even when you get an offer you like, try and get more.


Trade With a Purpose

I love making trades just as much as the next guy. I can literally spend hours out of my night trying to formulate the perfect trade scenarios in my leagues if I let myself—but the point of trading is not because you’re bored with your team or because you just need to do something.

The point is to make your team better. You’re not going to win every single trade you make, but don’t be the guy in the league who will make a trade just for the sake of making a trade.

Instead figure out who that guy is—and take advantage.

What does everyone else think about all of this? Feel free to add any tips of your own or perhaps you have an example of a trade that implements one of these principles. Let’s hear what you think about trading. If you have any trades on the table right now feel free to throw them up on here and I’ll try and give you some advice.

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