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Fantasy Baseball Update: Player Values & First Half Busts

Today we are going to take a look at how to evaluate a player’s value, and at the first half busts. Be sure to continue sending your emails, we appreciate all the comments we have received. Check out our Minor Lg. column on Monday.

Fantasy Player Values

We are closing in on the trade deadline, and many owners will begin to get much more active in the trade market about this time. So, in order to help you make better trades for you team you need to be able to determine a players accurate value. Determining a player’s value is a tricky business in fantasy. Many factors distort a player’s value, and you must have a firm formula to determine value before making any decision on a player (trade, not trade, draft, etc.). A large portion of each player’s value comes from you the player/owner. In order to determine a player's true value though you need to follow some very simple rules.

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  1. Names do not truly matter. Names are an artificial inflator of value. Many of the top players are the big names, but some player’s numbers are not indicative of their value. Just be careful to make sure that the numbers add up to what the player is going to cost in a trade or draft.
  2. Pay for numbers not projections. No doubt you all have read the magazines and prognostications that tell you a players projected numbers. You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The best predictor of future performance??? You guessed it, past performance. Most players you are going to look at are going to put up similar numbers year after year. Those years where they greatly exceed their normal totals should be seen as a bonus. Down years must be looked at cautiously (see #3). Overall his career track record and recent trending should determine your player’s value.
  3. Do not overreact to a bad season, but do not under react either. You must be cautious to not overpay for a player in or coming off of a bad year. Value is affected by the current season but not defined by that season. You as an owner must determine whether that player is a good buy low candidate. Not every player’s value is going to rebound, but many will, so you must be careful. A couple things to look at are recent trends (two seasons, recent weeks/months), age, team, job security, ballpark, etc. (see #4).
  4. Use all factors when determining value. You must look at everything and not just everything about the player. You must determine which positions are more valuable in baseball and your league. You must look at which stats weigh more heavily in your league. Check and see how many categories in your league a player can help with. Keep an eye on your team’s needs, that is where a player gets a different value to each owner (an owner needing speed is going to value Ichiro Suzuki more than a team that does not). Then come all of the obvious factors such as stats, age, team, job security, etc. (Keeper leagues have the added factor of keepability, and age is much more important).
  5. Determine the cost/value ratio. After looking at all of the above factors you have to determine the players cost (trade cost, draft position/cost). It is that cost that will give you the final measure of a value. Obviously a player who is priced lower but puts up substantial numbers is more valuable. Many times these players are youngsters or minor leaguers. Just understand that there will probably be growing pains with these types of players, be patient or you could lose out on a great value. Every league always has players who slip through the cracks or bubble up during the year. Those players value many times only remains at that level for that season, so adjust your cost accordingly (again a keeper league changes the value). This cost/value ratio is the most important factor for you to determine. Always compare a wide array of players at comparable positions and statistics in order to determine scarcity. Players who provide more scarcity (40/40 guys) obviously have more value and cost.

The real key is to determine how much value you give any player and how much you are willing to give up for that player. The reverse is also true; you must decide whom you will trade and what it will take for you to trade them. Once you are able to reconcile which players can help you and realistically be attained; you must look at what you are able and willing to move. Your personal style will generally be the method by which you come to these decisions. I tend to be very conservative in my keeper leagues with younger players who have high ceilings. However, in one-year leagues I tend to be aggressive in going after veterans. Again, this difference is where your leagues rules will help you to determine a philosophy as well as a value system.

Drafts are a different beast than trades in a couple ways for the purpose of evaluating players. In a draft setting it is not comparing a player to another player in a specific swap; so value must be determined using comparable players and positions. Your league will play greatly into a players draft day value. You must focus your attention much more on last season’s numbers, position density, and your leagues categories. Basically in a draft or keeper situation you must determine if what you are giving up to draft or keep a player is worth the opportunity to draft other available players.


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First Half Fantasy Baseball Busts

The busts are broken down by position and then league. The number percentage at the end of each description is the likelihood of that player rebounding to put up solid numbers in the second half. Remember, just having bad numbers does not make you a bust. Busts have to be determined by not just the current season, but also the expectations coming into the season.

 

Catcher

AL- Kenji Johjima (Mariners): Johjima rated as the 4 th or 5 th rated AL catcher at the worst prior to this season. He is currently not in my top twenty. AL catcher is a position that has quite a few busts this season, so Johjima’s being the clear choice for biggest bust tells you how bad he has been. 10% He is not going to get a chance to bounce back, Jeff Clement is the starter, and a player with huge upside.

NL- Carlos Ruiz (Phillies): There will be some people who say Paul LoDuca is the choice here. I disagree, simply because everybody should have seen LoDuca’s fall coming. However, Ruiz had as much promise as any young catcher prior to this season and has lived up to none of it so far. 75% I still believe that Ruiz will be a solid offensive catcher. Expect Chris Coste to come back to him a little bit, and Ruiz to get better over the rest of the season.

 

First Base

AL- Paul Konerko (White Sox): It is true that Konerko slid some last year, but his power numbers were still very good. This season he has fallen off the cliff. To put in perspective how bad he has been, his numbers are no better than recently released Richie Sexson’s. Konerko is only 31, so he is not too old to turn it around. 40% Konerko could pull a Mike Lowell and turn it around as he ages, but I see no reason to bet on him getting it back this season.

NL- Adam LaRoche (Pirates): LaRoche is not much of a bust. His OBP is a little low, but the rest of his numbers are right on par with his career averages. LaRoche is the choice simply because 1B is not a position with any real busts this year in the NL, and people tended to over-rate LaRoche coming into the year. 90% Again, not a true bust, so there is no reason to think he will not keep doing what he is doing.

 

Second Base

AL- Robinson Cano (Yankees): A close choice here between Cano and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cano is the choice because you had to expect more from him than you did from Cabrera. Cano’s power numbers have been adequate, but everything else has been awful. 80% A player as talented as Cano has to be expected to bounce back.

NL- Freddy Sanchez (Pirates): Sanchez has been as consistent as any hitter in baseball the previous two seasons. During the first half he has been among the worst hitters at second base in the NL. The odd part is that his power numbers are the same as his career numbers. 65% I still really like Sanchez, but regardless of his first half you must understand that Sanchez is a solid player, not a difference maker.

 

Shortstop

AL- Edgar Renteria (Tigers): Who has not been disappointing this year at short in the AL? Renteria beats out Yuniesky Betancourt for the most disappointing shortstop in the AL this season. It is becoming more and more obvious that Renteria cannot hit AL pitching. His numbers are actually worse than his numbers in Boston during 2005. 30% Renteria is one of the most underrated players in fantasy baseball over the past ten years. That said, at his current age you cannot expect him to bounce back this season, and I do not expect him to either.

NL- Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies): Part of me hates to put Tulo on this list simply because of the injuries. However, he has been so bad when healthy he is the clear winner in the NL. Tulo has been worse than awful during his sophomore campaign, and now you have to add the injury question. 75% It depends on what you expect from Tulo over the rest of the season. If you expect decent numbers I think he will accommodate you. If you expect last year you will be sorely disappointed.

 

Third Base

AL- Mike Lamb (Twins): Another position that does not have a clear bust of any significance. Lamb was not expected to be an impact player, but he should have been a solid corner guy with 20-homer power as a starter for the Twins. He could be the biggest bust in baseball if you look at pre-season predictions compared to actual production. 0% He is not going to play, and even if he did it would not really matter.

NL- Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals): Similar to Tulowitzki, Zimmerman has been awful when healthy. He did manage eight homers in 209 at bats, but that is the only good thing you can say about his season. Zimmerman should be one of the three best third basemen in the NL, this year he is behind guys like Jose Castillo, enough said. 99% Zimmerman is as close to a sure thing to bounce back as you can get.

 

Outfield

AL- Alex Rios (Blue Jays): In every stat category besides stolen bases Rios is among the biggest disappointments of the year. This season was expected to be the year he took the next step to move into the elite fantasy ranks. Rios has fallen short of his career averages across the board (except in steals), and he is proof of the danger of following pre-season stat projections. 80% You have to figure Rios will figure out the strikeouts and get his power back.

Honorable Mention: Carl Crawford (Rays) 90%, Delmon Young (Twins) 75%, Franklin Gutierrez (Indians) 30%

NL- Andruw Jones (Dodgers): Most people expected Jones to bounce back with the change of scenery to LA. He was never going to hit for a high average but expecting a power rebound was very realistic. Jones has been the biggest bust in the NL. 25% Twenty-five percent might be too generous for Jones at this point, but he is only 31 so there is still time.

Honorable Mention: Geoff Jenkins (Phillies) 10%, Austin Kearns (Nationals) 60%, Eric Byrnes (D’Backs) 1%

 

Starting Pitcher

AL- Dontrelle Willis (Tigers): Willis was not a good bet to bounce back to his elite numbers of two years ago. However, no one could have predicted he would be bad enough to be shipped to Single A and then continue to struggle. 25% Willis is only 26, but I doubt he will ever be an elite fantasy starter again.

Honorable Mention: Erik Bedard (Mariners) 70%, Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) 80%, AJ Burnett (Blue Jays) 51%, Joe Blanton (A’s) 35% (going to the Phillies really hurts his chances)

NL- Brad Penny (Dodgers) A position loaded with disappointments comes down to expectations. Penny started the All Star Game for the NL last season. This season he has gotten very little run support and provided plenty of the same for opposing pitchers. 20% I do not like Penny at all going forward.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Harang (Reds) 59%, Rich Hill (Cubs) 69%, Tom Gorzelanny (Pirates) 40%, Jeff Francis (Rockies) 75%

 

Relief Pitcher

AL- Joe Borowski (Indians): Borowski was anything but dominant last year. He did lead the AL in saves though. This season Borowski lasted just 16.1 innings before being dropped by a terrible Cleveland team. 0% Borowski will never close again in the majors.

NL- Trevor Hoffman (Padres): The major’s all-time saves leader has been torched all year. He has been terrible from day one, and has cost Greg Maddux about seven first half wins. 19% Hoffman has been as dominant as any closer over the past 15 seasons, but he appears to be done.

 

More Fantasy Notes

Do not expect Joe Blanton to provide the same value as Rich Harden or CC Sabathia in coming to the NL. Blanton was not as good as he pitched last year, and going to a clear hitters park in Philadelphia will not help him get better this year. The question must be asked about Brad Lidge following the All Star Game loss. Will he implode in the second half? It has happened before to Lidge after losing on a big stage. Chris Carpenter is set to go on a rehab assignment, so monitor his progress if you are in need of pitching. The Rangers announced that Hank Blalock will move back to third when he returns from the DL this weekend. Blalock’s going back to third is good news for Chris Davis who will continue to start at first. Richie Sexson signed with the Yankees and will probably start against most lefties. He could actually be worth looking at in strictly that capacity. The Indians will recall Asdrubal Cabrera this weekend. Cabrera is an excellent player to look at in keeper leagues due to his upside.

 

 

By Brian Chmielewski
MLBcenter.com Fantasy Baseball Correspondent

Fans can contact Brian via email at bchmfantasybaseball @ yahoo.com


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