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January 20, 2011
Rankings Review: Left Field
This is a review of my 2010 left field rankings. This time around, not only will we use auction values for mixed leagues, but also the dollar value for AL- and NL-only leagues. These dollar values come from Graphical Player 2011, and I think these will do a good job illustrating how much I missed by on the players I missed, though, broken record style, the why is more important than the result when it comes to these rankings. All PECOTA projections, dollar values and statistics in the parentheses are from 2010.
Carl Crawford (.298/.354/.458 PECOTA, .307/.356/.495 2010; $35.9 mixed/$40.9 AL): Crawford didn't steal 60 bases again, but PECOTA is pleased about that since it projected a total of 45 (Crawford swiped 47 in reality). He replaced some of those steals by boosting his power numbers with a career-high ISO that dwarfs every season in his career except 2006.
Ryan Braun (.306/.373/.583 PECOTA, .304/.365/.501 2010; $28.9 mixed/$33.2 NL): PECOTA projected Braun to add even more power to his game, despite two straight seasons of dropping ISO. Make 2010 the third straight season with that problem. He didn’t crush lefties like he normally does, which may be the reason the drop in his slugging was as large as it was, but a look at his dropping strikeout rates shows he is becoming more contact oriented. Is Braun a massive source of power anymore? 2011 should tell us a lot about that, though with the dropping ISO, I'm inclined to say he's still a five-star, but not on the level of say, Miguel Cabrera.
Matt Holliday (.303/.391/.506 PECOTA, .312/.390/.532 2010; $28.7 mixed/$33.0 NL): I'm comfortable with this Holliday slot, where he is the king of the four star left fielders, but still not quite a five.
Carlos Lee (.307/.362/.512 PECOTA, .246/.291/.417 2010; $7.7 mixed/$15.3 NL): I thought Carlos Lee would lose most of his value by 2012, and even said he was on the way down, but I didn't expect it to happen so much during 2011.
Jacoby Ellsbury (.301/.358/.430 PECOTA, .192/.241/.244 2010; -$18.2 mixed/-$2.3 AL): Let's just say that if Ellsbury's broken ribs had been diagnosed correctly the first and not the sixteenth time, this ranking would have looked fine.
Nyjer Morgan (.288/.347/.381 PECOTA, .253/.319/.314 2010; -$1.3 mixed/$11.1 NL): This one is on me. I overrated him based on 2009, thinking his stolen base totals could offset a decline in his rate stats, but both his steals and numbers dipped.
Adam Lind (.279/.345/.494 PECOTA, .237/.287/.425 2010; $1.1 mixed/$12.0 AL): Lind hit .275/.318/.461 against left-handers in 2009 and .117/.159/.182 against them in 2010. Before you say, "Well, 2010 is just one year," you could say the same about 2009, and his non-2009 career numbers against southpaws are .184/.233/.280 with whiffs in 27 percent of the 331 plate appearances. I touched on this a bit back in June in more detail, and it's still relevant because those numbers didn't pick up.
Manny Ramirez (.270/.378/.452 PECOTA, .289/.409/.460 2010; -$3.1 mixed/$8.9 NL): I thought PECOTA was underrating Manny, but it ended up being closer to reality than my own ideas on the subject. A lot of his 2011 value depends on what park he ends up playing in, so I'm not sure where I want to put him yet. But four stars is high.
Travis Snider (.251/.333/.457 PECOTA, .255/.304/.463 2010; -$5.3 mixed/$7.7 AL): Snider made strides, boosting his ISO and cutting into his strikeout rate, but he just didn't progress as far as I thought he would (read: further ahead than PECOTA's weighted-mean forecast said he would).
Denard Span (.295/.378/.421 PECOTA, .264/.331/.348 2010; $8.0 mixed/$17.9 AL): Span is a career .301/.380/.427 on turf, and .282/.360/.373 hitter on grass. Guess which surface his new park is covered in? He did however improve on his steals, as I thought he would, getting caught just four times rather than 10, like in 2009. Let's not get into his pick offs though, since they don't count as caught stealing anyway.
Jason Bay (.258/.372/.471 PECOTA, .259/.347/.402 2010; -$2.6 mixed/$8.5 NL): Citi Field didn't affect Bay much differently than expected—the real problem was in his road numbers, which were extremely low. A concussion kept him from getting back on the field and rectifying the situation.
Rajai Davis (.284/.341/.415 PECOTA, .284/.320/.377 2010; $14.4 mixed/$25.1 AL): Less power than expected hurt his numbers somewhat, but he swiped 50 bags and kept himself plenty useful, though not quite four star material.
Adam Dunn (.246/.384/.487 PECOTA, .260/.356/.535 2010; $19.7 mixed/$24.3 NL): I ended up moving Dunn into four stars before the rankings concluded—looks like he just makes it into that tier with nearly $20 value, especially with the dual-eligibility he had.
Carlos Gonzalez (.280/.340/.475 PECOTA, .336/.376/.598 2010; $44.2 mixed/$46.4 NL): I'm glad I said Gonzalez was likely to become a four-star player, because that is five-star value. He may not be as good in real life as he is in fantasy (Hello, .356/.405/.687 career line at Coors), but unless your league park-adjusts, that's a trifling matter. Abuse his home park for all it's worth.
Carlos Quentin (.273/.378/.519 PECOTA, .243/.342/.479 2010; $10.0 mixed/$18.4 AL): Three stars was right for Quentin—I moved him to four stars later at the behest of readers, with the caveat that he only deserves it if he's healthy. He played in 131 games and produced three-star level value.
Josh Hamilton (.294/.366/.532 PECOTA, .359/.411/.633 2010; $35.2 mixed/$39.2 AL): To the collective reader's credit, Hamilton got the same "if healthy" treatment that Quentin did with his eventual bump to four stars, and that worked out pretty alright.
Jason Kubel (.282/.357/.488 PECOTA, .249/.323/.427 2010; $7.7 mixed/$16.6 AL): Kubel lost even more BABIP than PECOTA expected him to, and his home park leans towards pitchers—combine the two, and you get his 2010 campaign.
Juan Rivera (.280/.328/.465 PECOTA, .252/.312/.409 2010; -$1.2 mixed/$10.2 AL): Rivera has had one BABIP over the league average in his entire time with the Angels, and 2010 had the second-lowest of all of those. Injuries didn't help things, and the power he flashed two straight seasons vanished.
Brett Gardner (.272/.364/.384 PECOTA, .277/.383/.379 2010; $17.5 mixed/$26.3 AL): Gardner got the playing time that was more of an unsure thing when these ratings came out, and for his troubles, he was worth a few bucks more than his placement within the three star category merited.
Juan Pierre (.294/.343/.382 PECOTA, .275/.341/.316 2010; $21.0 mixed/$30.5 AL): Morgan in four stars and Pierre in three stars is going to be one of those things that bothers me until I make the new rankings.
Johnny Damon (.278/.362/.440 PECOTA, .271/.355/.401 2010; $5.4 mixed/$15.2 AL): Heading to Detroit didn't do anything for Damon's numbers—park-adjusted, he was basically the same guy, but most leagues don't care about that. He was a little high within the three-star grouping.
Conor Jackson (.283/.374/.441 PECOTA, .236/.336/.327 2010; -$14.3 mixed/$0.6 AL): I'm kind of glad I don't remember the last time I was impressed by Jackson as a baseball player, because it means I'm less likely to rank him this high again.
Josh Willingham (.256/.369/.460 PECOTA, .268/.389/.459 2010; $3.5 mixed/$13.2 NL): Willingham is one of those players who is much better in real life than in fantasy, and having just 114 games under his belt didn't help him rack up enough R or RBI to help in the categories he should.
Luke Scott (.263/.347/.473 PECOTA, .284/.368/.535 2010; $12.7 mixed/$21.1 AL): His ability to slot in the outfield and first was useful, and he was much better offensively than expected, making Scott one of the better three-star options available.
Kyle Blanks (.258/.346/.443 PECOTA, .157/.283/.324 2010; -$18.2 mixed/-$3.8 NL): Tommy John surgery ended his season early, and there is a very good chance the aches and pains that led up to the procedure caused his line to collapse.
Raul Ibanez (.278/.351/.468 PECOTA, .275/.349/.444 2010; $10.5 mixed/$18.0 NL): To no one's surprise (except maybe 2K Sports, though they at least recognized he was old, something general manager Ruben Amaro may have overlooked), Ibanez just didn't have another year like 2009 in him.
Seth Smith (.278/.370/.469 PECOTA, .246/.314/.469 2010; -$0.3 mixed/$9.5 NL): The power was there, but Smith surprisingly didn't hit for a quality batting average, which is not a problem you see often in Colorado. His use was limited to NL-only leagues because of that and just under 400 plate appearances on the season.
Milton Bradley (.275/.395/.454 PECOTA, .205/.292/.348 2010; -$11.6 mixed/$2.6 AL): This was a poor offensive showing, even for a Mariner. His walk rates dropped, his strikeout rates climbed, and Safeco kept him down as well. His PECOTA forecast may have been a little optimistic, as were my thoughts on him, but this was worse than I imagined the downside to be.
Scott Hairston (.255/.314/.453 PECOTA, .210/.295/.346 2010; -$10.0 mixed/$2.3 NL): Injuries messed up his value, but even if he had been healthy, he probably should have been a two-star player due to playing time concerns.
Chase Headley (.267/.355/.439 PECOTA, .264/.327/.375 2010; $6.9 mixed/$16.1 NL): Headley wasn't as poor as you would think with that line, thanks to going 17/22 on steals, picking up 58 RBI and coming around to score 77 times. He's never going to help your batting average (or on-base, if that's your thing) as a Padre, but if he's going to steal some bases for you then he's worth a look in available formats at the right price.
Rick Ankiel (.255/.314/.456 PECOTA, .232/.321/.389 2010; -$11.6 mixed/$1.3 NL): Ankiel was hurt for most of the year, and didn't play that well when he made it onto the field. Chances are good you didn't waste too much on him given his rating here, but unless it was $1, it was waste.
Carlos Guillen (.270/.367/.450 PECOTA, .273/.327/.419 2010; -$9.4 mixed/$4.3 AL): Carlos Guillen used to hit like an outfielder when he was an infielder, and now he hits like an infielder while in the outfield. His last two seasons have combined for about one season worth of plate appearances, so next time around I may want to bump him even further down.
Mark DeRosa (.273/.355/.447 PECOTA, .194/.279/.258 2010; -$19.1 mixed/-$4.5 NL): It's hard to reach a season forecast when an injury limits you to 104 plate appearances. DeRosa should be what we're used to in 2011 as long as he's healthy, but 2010 was a lost year.
Ryan Raburn (.269/.348/.486 PECOTA, .20/.340/.474 2010; $3.7 mixed/$14.0 AL): He didn't have the playing time to be very valuable in mixed leagues, but after his finish to 2010, those plate appearances may be coming. Two stars was right for him, but if he's got a steady gig, he should get a bump for 2011.
Skip Schumaker (.294/.355/.407 PECOTA, .265/.328/.338 2010; -$1.5): Schumaker would have been a defensible last name on the three-star list if he hit his projection, which looked a lot like his last three seasons of work, but he didn’t come close. Thanks, a lot, Skip.
Drew Stubbs (.237/.320/.360 PECOTA, .255/.329/.444 2010; $19.1 mixed/$25.7 NL): I liked Stubbs for his speed, but felt he needed a much better offensive line than what PECOTA forecasted to be anywhere but two stars. Here we are, and he got nearly 600 plate appearances too.
Delmon Young (.300/.330/.444 PECOTA, .298/.333/.493 2010; $20.9 mixed/$27.2 AL): "Young is taking his sweet time improving, but PECOTA sees signs of life this year." After all those bits of tiny progress, Young took a large leap forward. It's good it took him this long in a way, because now those ridiculous Manny Ramirez comparisons have all but vanished.
Melky Cabrera (.273/.341/.404 PECOTA, .255/.317/.354 2010; -$5.7 mixed/$5.9 NL): I was going to make a joke about Delmon Young's lack of athleticism until I realized Melky was next and better suited for that angle. Not that round has much to do with angles.
Chris Dickerson (.251/.355/.420 PECOTA, .206/.250/.268 2010; -$19.0 mixed/-$3.9 NL): When you have negative value in an NL-only league, something has gone seriously wrong. Dickerson only picked up 106 plate appearances, and as you can see, didn't make use of them.
David Murphy (.278/.353/.461 PECOTA, .291/.358/.449 2010; $7.6 mixed/$17.8 AL): Murphy set a career-high in games during a season in which he was expected to see the field less often. Either way, two stars is fitting for him, though he was certainly more valuable in AL-only thanks to those 138 appearances.
Jeremy Hermida (.271/.356/.456 PECOTA, .216/.268/.351 2010; -$14.7 mixed/$0.0 AL): I didn't expect much out of Hermida—he is down by the bottom of the two-star guys after all—but this was a poor showing even with those standards in mind. Injuries took their toll, and he may have played away whatever remaining potential he had.
I have not been looking forward to talking about how much I missed Jose Bautista ($35.2 mixed/$38.5 AL) by, but considering he was still a free agent in a lot of leagues pretty far into the season, it's not like anyone believed this was going to happen. It's hard to get too upset over this, though I should keep on the lookout for guys like Bautista who underwent significant changes in their approach before the previous season ended. Felix Pie (-$6.7 mixed/$6.2 AL) was useless unless you were desperate for another outfielder in an AL-only league. Gerardo Parra (-$11.5 mixed/$1.5 NL) had the same deal, except in the NL. Ryan Spilborghs (-$3.4 mixed/$8.1 NL) actually helped me out in an NL-only league where I had quite a few outfield injuries, and did so for the grand total of $1 near the end of an auction, so hooray for Ryan Spilborghs. Michael Brantley (-$9.9 mixed/$4.0 AL) probably helped a few sad teams out in AL-only leagues. Scott Podsednik ($11.9 mixed/$22.2 NL) was ranked this low because his PECOTA projection for stolen bases and playing time were both somewhat low, but then he went and appeared in 134 games and swiped 35 bases. If you're in a league where SB-CS is a category, you can pretty much ignore those dollar values, since he was caught 15 times in 50 attempts.