Early 2011 Fantasy Baseball Value Plays

We are not even at the All-Star Break yet so you may be asking, “Why the hell are you talking about values for 2011?”  Certainly a fair question but it is never too early to start getting a feel for the next season – even in non-keeper leagues.  Here is a look at some players who, at the moment, are looking like they are good bets to outperform their 2011 draft positions. Stats are as of July 5, 2010.

Catcher

Brian McCann .265-10-34, 2010 Yahoo! ADP: 37– McCann battled eye issues again this season and that could easily have played a role in his 2010 struggles.  He’ll be 27 in 2011 and the big season is coming eventually.

Matt Weiters .236-6-26, 2010 Y! ADP: 98 – Weiters was a popular breakout selection this season but he has disappointed mightily.  We are very impatient when it comes to fantasy sports.  He has the talent, but sometimes it takes a little bit longer for guys to find their groove at the game’s highest level.  Patience will pay off.

First Base

Mark Teixeira .243-13-53, 2010 Y! ADP: 10 – He is very quietly starting to turn around a very uncharacteristic season.  The hole that he dug himself is likely too deep to completely pull himself out of.  He should still be a 1st rounder next season, but he is likely to make plenty of fantasy managers very happy by falling to the 2nd round.

Prince Fielder
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Prince Fielder .262-18-36, 2010 Y! ADP: 12 – The discrepancy between where Prince should be drafted and where he is drafted in 2011 is likely to be fairly small.  However, he is doing a nice little “on-year/””off year” sort of deal.  If you’re the superstitious type, you may also believe that Prince is going to deliver a monster season in 2011 at a small discount.

Billy Butler .320-8-42, 2010 Y! ADP: 78 – Butler is not having a poor season by any stretch of the imagination.  However, he is leaving a little bit to be desired in the power category.  He is not going to fall off the map in 2011 drafts, but he could be passed over by managers looking for more power production.

Second Base

Chase Utley .277-11-37, 2010 Y! ADP: 5 – Utley was already struggling a bit before his thumb injury so he is surely headed for a position in the late-first/early-second round range in 2011 drafts.  Again, someone will be presented with a nice gift on draft day.

Ian Kinsler

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Ian Kinsler .299-3-26, 2010 Y! ADP: 18 – The high ankle sprain that Kinsler suffered in Spring Training seems to have had a significant lingering effect on his power and speed production.  His situation is similar to Butler’s.  The MVP-caliber season is still in the cards.

Gordon Beckham .206-2-20, 2010 Y! ADP: 132 – 2010 has just been a nightmare for Beckham after such a promising rookie campaign in 2009.  Its hard to imagine him not outproducing his 2011 draft position – wherever it ends up.

Third Base

Aramis Ramirez .177-6-23, 2010 Y! ADP: 55 – Yeah, he’ll be 32 heading into the season and will turn 33 in June, but he’s still got some juice left in the tank.  A career .281 hitter, A-Ram will be a really nice discount at 3B after the top guys are off the board.

Pablo Sandoval .269-6-32, 2010 Y! ADP: 33 – Sandoval will be interesting because after what could end up as a sub-par 2010, there will be a lot of noise regarding “who the real Sandoval is”.  To be honest, Kung Fu Panda will probably make my upcoming Potentially Overvalued list as well.

Shortstop

Jose Reyes .277-6-32, 2010 Y! ADP: 45 – Of course you can’t forget about the 19 swipes.  Reyes is another guy who won’t be going down as “Value Pick of the Year” in 2011, but when he’s himself he is a borderline first rounder and certainly a Top-20 player.  Even though he’s a 2010 All-Star it is possible that he gets skipped over a few too many times in 2011 drafts.

Stephen Drew .268-4-28, 2010 Y! ADP: 183 – The tools are there somewhere.  Nobody knows if he’ll be able to put them together in 2011.  Chances are you won’t have to invest much at all to find out.

Outfield

Curtis Granderson .226-7-22, 2010 Y! ADP: 56 – His groin injury in May has probably played a part in his lack of stolen bases (6) and his work against LHP has been less than poor.  It usually takes new Yankee a year to feel comfortable.  He’ll produce nicely in 2011.

Grady Sizemore (DL) .211-0-13, 2010 Y! ADP: 25 – His stock has been on a two-year plummet.  He is too young and too talented to just fall off of the map.  His knee injury, as odd as it may sound, could be a blessing in disguise as it’ll allow his elbow to fully recover.  If he gets back to 100% he’s got my endorsement for Comeback Player of the Year and Best Value of 2011.

BOSTON - APRIL 26: Jacoby Ellsbury #46 of the ...
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Jacoby Ellsbury .250-0-3, 2010 Y! ADP: 25 – Ellsbury’s season has been lost to this point as he has only played nine games due to fractured ribs.  He won’t fall too far in 2011, but at least if you draft him you will get to pay market value instead of overpaying like those who drafted him in 2010 likely did.

Carlos Quentin .229-13-50, 2010 Y! ADP: 180 – The numbers that you see to the left are the result of a recent hot streak.  That is how bad his numbers have been this season.  This is another guy like Drew who has the talent but it is just a matter of whether or not you’ll see it.  Nothing wrong with gambling with a 20th round pick.  The chances are good that he could end up there in 2011.

Starting Pitchers

Justin Verlander 10–103–3.85–1.15, 2010 Y! ADP: 56 – Barring a hot second half – something that Verlander is very capable of – his stock is likely to regress in 2011.  It’s not that his numbers are poor this season.  It’s just that the discrepancy between the numbers he’s posting and the numbers people expected will cause people to pass over him.

Zack Greinke 4–92–3.94–1.20, 2010 Y! ADP: 28 – See Justin Verlander.  I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Greinke’s stock falls into the Verlander tier.  Fine with me.

Tim Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum 8–121–3.28–1.30, 2010 Y! ADP: 10 – Failing to live up to a first round selection is the best way to create negative buzz and to drive your stock downward.  Personally, I think it’s even worse when you’re a pitcher.  “The Freak” hasn’t looked like himself in 2010 but 2011 will present a golden opportunity to draft a staff anchor at 1-2 round discount.

Relief Pitchers

I’m not even going to name any specific players here because relief pitching is all about taking advantage of the random guys who emerge out of the shadows each and every year.  Jon Rauch, Ryan Franklin and Andrew Bailey are just a few guys who emerged out of absolutely nowhere to claim a closer’s job.  There are countless others who are not getting saves but are still dealing.  The key with closers is to just make sure you do not overpay.

That was a quick list of guys to pay close attention to for the remainder of the season.  Granted, many of the names above are not going to make it out of the first three rounds and a lot will change between now and the end of September.  2011 fantasy baseball success starts in 2010 though.

Don’t get a late jump on the competition.

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