CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Retooling... (08/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (08/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (08/24)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Max Sc... (08/24)

August 24, 2010

Fantasy Beat

2011's Worst Fantasy Roster?

by Marc Normandin

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Last week the idea of a new and scary world was brought up—one in which the Pirates and their players are relevant in fantasy baseball. They have been at or near the very bottom of the pile in that context for years, to the point where it was a given they were the most bereft of fantasy utility. Now that they have started to climb the ladder though, who will take their place?

Thanks to a farm system that's empty up top, a few trades that moved fantasy staples off the roster, and a roster that's missing much of anything in the way of impact players, the new bottom feeder is the Houston Astros. While they do still have Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, the pickings are slim after that. There's some hope in the form of a few players that may keep them out of this position, but there are no guarantees for success.

Rodriguez has often been considered an excellent pitcher for fantasy purposes, as he's perpetually underrated. While he began the year slow, he's increased his strikeout rate as the season has gone on and is back to where he was expected to be performance wise—an ERA of 4.00, 7.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 on the year are impressive when you consider that prior to the All-Star break he was at a 4.97 ERA with 6.8 whiffs per nine. His SIERA is at 3.77 now, which isn't that much higher than his 2009 SIERA of 3.50, so it's safe to say he's back and is worth paying attention to in 2011 as well.

Pence has also seen his production come on strong after the break, following a slow start. Whereas he was hitting .263/.316/.427 in 323 at-bats prior to the break, he's brought his line up to a much more Pence-like .283/.325/.469 thanks to a strong start to the second half (a 909 OPS over 144 at-bats, fueled only partially by a .326 batting average). Those are your go-to Astros in a fantasy draft, but remember—until this July, there was more to choose from thanks to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. The fact that Carlos Lee has finally fallen off in the way everyone outside of the Houston front office that signed him knew he would eventually hasn’t helped matters either.

Who else can you rely on from the 'Stros? Chris Johnson comes to mind, as he's impressed in his rookie season (.330/.356/.502 in 222 plate appearances). The problem with Johnson is that he has a BABIP of .401 at the moment. He had a big partial season at Triple-A, but it translated into a TAv of .262, right around the league average for the position (the line is more impressive than it looks, as it's supported heavily by his batting average). Johnson is probably more of a .260/.310/.420 kind of hitter than what he's shown himself to be—his 90th percentile  was .261/.311/.451, which he has blown away, but has done so only because of that unsustainable BABIP.

Michael Bourn was a stud in 2009 thanks to a line of .285/354/.384 that came with 61 stolen bases. With a much more normal BABIP in 2010 though, his line has fallen to .252/.328/.324. He still has 42 steals (and is stealing at an 80 percent clip) but without the extra times on base and the higher batting average, there are better options for well-rounded production out there. It's easy to say this is just an off year for Bourn, but if you take a look at his career, he has more years like 2010 than like 2009 on the resume—he's a potential rebound pick for 2011, but not a sure thing.

Angel Sanchez is an intriguing name at shortstop if for no other reason than shortstop is a terrible position. His .244 TAv isn't good, even for a shortstop, but his upper level forecasts had him as an average shortstop and he's hit like that at times during the season. He has just 173 plate appearances on the season, and isn't an impact kind of name, but he's an under-the-radar option who may help fill out a roster in NL-only leagues next year, or even now if you're desperate. Similarly, Jason Castro has not played well for Houston, as a rookie catcher he's someone to keep an eye on down the stretch. You have to look at his 70th percentile or above to find even a league average performance, but it's a possibility, and as long as he doesn't continue to play below his 10th percentile in 2010 there may be some hope for 2011.

Brett Wallace posted a translated TAv of .242 in Triple-A before coming over to Houston, and has performed poorly since replacing Berkman at first. Wallace's ceiling may be league average first baseman, which puts him into the Adam LaRoche role in terms of fantasy utility, but he isn't quite there yet either. Since players like LaRoche are often ignored in mixed leagues and are considered later options in NL-only, Wallace doesn't have all that much appeal considering he hasn't reached that level yet.

There are plenty of interesting names here, but no one outside of Pence is the kind of player you need to be rushing out to draft, and even Pence fails to be a front line option. The rotation isn't that much different, though there's arguably more upside in it thanks to Bud Norris, who as of yet hasn't put it all together, but has teased us plenty of times with strikeouts. Brett Myers is not the kind of pitcher you bet on low 3 ERAs from year-after-year, and as his 3.80 SIERA can attest, he's been good, but not that good.

Just like the Pirates in the past, there are plenty of "what if" type players to choose from on the Astros, players to help you out in a deep NL-only league, or inexpensive options for filling out your roster at auction, but the number of impact players is as low as anyone else in the majors, which makes them a perfect replacement for the Bucs at the bottom of the fantasy pile.

13 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Retooling... (08/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (08/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (08/24)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Max Sc... (08/24)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The View from the Loge Level: Ode to Joe
Premium Article What You Need to Know: July 25, 2014
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Kendrys Redux
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Mismatched Incentives of Dr...
Premium Article Notes from the Field: What's Wrong With Appe...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Chris Taylor
Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby Miller's Fall From Grac...

MORE FROM AUGUST 24, 2010
Premium Article Prospectus Perspective: Can the Red Sox Make...
Thrown a Changeup
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Max Scherzer
Premium Article Another Look: Lefty's Remarkable Streak

MORE BY MARC NORMANDIN
2010-08-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rise and Shine, Mr. Freeman
2010-08-25 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Manny In The Other Sox
2010-08-24 - Premium Article Prospectus Perspective: Can the Red Sox Make...
2010-08-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: 2011's Worst Fantasy Roster?
2010-08-20 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Pirates Deserve Your Fantasy A...
2010-08-18 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Checking Positional TAv
2010-08-17 - Premium Article Give and Take
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-08-25 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Outfield
2010-08-25 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Manny In The Other Sox
2010-08-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-08-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: 2011's Worst Fantasy Roster?
2010-08-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-08-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Yunigma
2010-08-20 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2011-01-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-08-26 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Breakout Bud