Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fantasy Preview - Shortstops

If ever there were a category that made me reconsider my own valuation method it is this one. Take a look -

Player Value
Jose Reyes 60.14
Jimmy Rollins 48.61
Rafael Furcal 47.05
Julio Lugo 39.05
Derek Jeter 38.00
Michael Young 33.90
Miguel Tejada 33.88

Felipe Lopez 30.84
Edgar Renteria 29.04
Jhonny Peralta 28.49

Orlando Cabrera 26.96
Adam Everett 24.04
David Eckstein 22.98
Clint Barmes 21.00
Juan Uribe 20.87

Russ Adams 18.85
Carlos Guillen 17.80
Y. Betencourt 17.32
Bobby Crosby 16.66
Khalil Greene 15.26
Nomar Garciaparra 8.96
Wilson Betemit 6.99

So how does a leadoff guy who doesn't walk and who does not possess a lot of pop top the list? Stolen Bases. Again, they are valued more highly than any other category. Jose Reyes stole 60 last season, and I have actually downgraded him to a "mere" 55 this season. But that represents about half the total you'd need to be near the top of that category in most leagues. Furcal, Lugo, and Rollins also have inflated values because each of them should nab more than 30 bases.

So are they really worth more than Michael Young and Miguel Tejada? The answer is: it depends. Michael Young is a truly complete player- he'll hit over .300, should have somewhere around 25 homeruns, and will drive in over a hundred and score over a hundred. The same holds true for Miguel Tejada. But you can also get those types of numbers from about 20-30 outfielders and a lot of cornermen. What you won't get from those positions are as many guys storming the basepaths. So why not grab a Jimmy Rillins and Rafael Furcal for less money than you'd spend on Young or Tejada, and then make up the power differential elswhere. You won't be able to make up the stolen base differential. You should be looking at the middle of the infield to pad a category that you won't elsewhere.

So it's with that in mind that I would suggest skipping over a player like Derek Jeter - good in every category, but great in none (save runs). He's perenially overvalued, so save your money or save your pick for somone who has greater value but who will come cheaper, or who you'll be able to nab in later rounds.

Okay, not convinced that you need to go for speed here? Then a sleeper of sorts is Jhonny Peralta. He started off slow last season, but ended a house afire. He's got the same power production totals of Michael Young, except for less money and a later draft pick.

Clint Barmes missed half a season, and his value above reflects that. If he plays a full season in Colorado, he should be in the second class of shortstops.

And Mr. Glass, err Nomar? He might be worth a gamble in later rounds, but only after you've selected all other position players.

Finally, if you're in the John Kruk "all-grit" fantasy league for morons, David Eckstein should be a nice pickup alongside Scott Podsednik. But if you actually value players who put up real numbers, then pass. (But Paul, what about Podsednik and stolen bases? I'll elaborate on that next week.)


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