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March 18, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Mailbag

by Marc Normandin

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As I was out of town at the beginning of the week thanks to a few events for Baseball Prospectus 2010, this is as good a time as any to revive something I have wanted to do for awhile, but haven't had the capacity to until this blog went live. My hope is to write a Fantasy Mailbag whenever reader questions allow, which will hopefully be weekly but it depends on how the queries are delivered (and if I'm allowed to publish them, which is up to the reader).

Let me know in the comments if this is something you would like to see—very often, in both my chats and in my inbox, I receive a bunch of similar or related questions involving the same players, and the best way to get this information out there for everyone to seem, including those who want to know but haven't asked, is to run a mailbag. Today we'll go light, with just one e-mail (as many of the others in my inbox were either very specific to their league or quick to answer) but in the future I hope to do 2-3 per mailbag. I can also answer unanswered chat questions through this venue, or expand on ones I already covered quickly in that format.

Chone Figgins is moving (back?) to 2B, in my league he only needs 5 games to be eligible.

Where would he rank, both in the star system, and in general?  Is he a top 10 2B?  I'm looking at him to fill an MI role, I could pick him JJ Hardy, Martin Prado, or Jason Bartlett. –M.B.

Figgins was a four-star third basemen in my rankings, though it was kind of a weak four that depended on a few things. It assumed he would score 100 runs or more near the top of the Mariners lineup, that his batting average would be above-average, and that his stolen base totals would far outshine that of the other third basemen, given he was slated for 40+ and the projected average at third was still in single digits. That's a lot of assuming, but it's all stuff that's more than a possibility as well.

I arranged players within tiers in a way that they should have similar value across all positions, though with multi-position players, there may be some slight variance due to their being significantly better or worse at one position than another—Victor Martinez was the example I used in the explanation, given how much more valuable he is as a catcher than a first baseman, but generally players had the same value. Figgins is one of those guys, though you can argue he's a stronger four-star at second than at third.

J.J. Hardy was also a four-star guy, but he's a very different player than Figgins. He won't have a great batting average (though his shouldn't hurt you either) but he should hit for lots of power for a middle infielder. This is more of a need based decision between the two—if your roster is lacking in power, Hardy might be your pick, but if you want to shore up steals and runs, then Figgins is the better choice. Prado is a three-star guy who does a little bit of everything but doesn't excel in any one area. He's a great choice for a balanced player—he could hit for a bit less power than Hardy but more than Figgins, but he's not going to contribute much in the way of steals.

Bartlett is kind of the wild card here—he's got more pop than Figgins, but won't steal as many bases, but his totals still dwarf Prado and Hardy's. The newly updated Depth Charts have him forecasted for 75 runs and 75 percent of the playing time at short, with both Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez butting in to steal PAs. Figgins has been bumped from 93 R to 99 in the update, and with Ichiro and Milton Bradley directly behind him, that's certainly believable—if you swap his and Lopez' playing time projections in terms of the percentage of the time they spend at a position, he's set for 90 percent of the playing time at second base. I'm more comfortable relying on Figgins than Bartlett, mostly because you don't have the two-headed Brignac/Rodriguez monster crawling up behind Figgins, which means there's a better chance his projection is fulfilled.

While this doesn't relate to the reader's question, there is now the question of what happens to Jose Lopez' value with the addition of third base to his qualifications. It doesn't honestly change things much at all. Sure, it will be nice to have the option of moving Lopez to third base in leagues with daily changes, but if you're stuck with him at third in a roto league or one without daily changes, it's not as appealing. He fits in with the middle-to-lower end of the three-star third basemen, which makes sense given that's the company he's keeping in the second base rankings. If you're torn between Lopez and a similar producer who doesn't quality at multiple positions, there's more reason to take Lopez, but otherwise he's still the same low OBP, batting average dependent source of decent middle infielder power he's been.

The last update to the depth charts saw him put in the #4 spot in the Mariners lineup though—if that holds, he should pick up more RBI, especially hitting behind Figgins, Ichiro and Milton Bradley. That's something to consider, and while he doesn't fit the role of a #4 guy that well, who else do the Mariners have, exactly? Ryan Garko? Casey Kotchman? Ken Griffey Jr.? Jose Lopez it is.

 

Related Content:  Mailbag,  Chone Figgins,  Jj Hardy,  Jose Lopez

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