Well, I have finally completed all of my fantasy baseball drafts for the year, which really means the battle has just begun. I'm coming off my best year of fantasy baseball finishing 1st, 4th, 4th, and 8th in my four leagues last year. This year, I've dropped it down to three leagues, which may allow me to keep all the numbers in the money...but who knows. As you all may or may not recall, I made some player predictions last year, which I must say turned out to be not so bad.
Therefore, in an attempt to help those of you with fantasy drafts still looming, here are my boom and bust picks for 2006:
Players to Avoid:
5. Josh Beckett - He's gonna have a lot of hype behind him now that he's playing with the big boys in the AL East. That hype is your worst nightmare. Most pitchers have a terrible time switching from the NL to the AL and going from the pitcher-friendly NL East to the pitcher-deadly AL East is reason enough to leave Beckett to some Beantown homer.
4. Barry Bonds - He was on my list last year and didn't fail to prove me right. This year shouldn't be as bad of an issue, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him quit playing in the middle of the season if the Giants fall out of contention...sighting a lack of desire. Steer clear.
3. Felix Hernandez - The kid is still a good pickup in keeper leagues, but I would avoid him in the one and done leagues. He's not gonna get the amount of innings you want for the pick you're gonna have to use to get him, and ALL young pitchers hit bumps early on...I don't care how much of a phenom he is. Check back on him in 2007-2008.
2. Gary Sheffield - I've just got a bad feeling about Sheff this year. I don't think he was too pleased with the antics that occurred in the off-season and when he's in a bad mood, you can expect the "injuries" to pop up and the stats to drop down. If you love the Yankees, there are plenty of others to choose from.
1. Chase Utley - Don't believe the hype. In some circles this guy is considered a first round pick. Yes, he's the magical age of 27, but stud players don't hit lefties as bad as this guy does. It's gonna bring his stats down and you'll be sitting with a 1st or 2nd round pick who's batting .260-80-15-60-8. Not terrible for a second basemen, but terrible for a second player. You'd be better off taking Placido Polanco six rounds later.
And now, the picks to click:
5. Shawn Chacon - You may be able to grab this guy with one of your last picks and he could turn out to be the best pitcher on the Yankees this season. It's hard to gauge how good a pitcher can be when he plays his entire career in Colorado, but he's only 28 and he had a strong showing with the Yankees at the end of last season. He's certainly gonna get run support, and you could do a lot worse. I'd put him at a very generous 15 Wins, 150K, 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP.
4. Travis Bowyer - Here's my cinderella pick for the year. He's a closer-to-be sitting down in Florida behind (or next to) Joe Borowski. He definitely has the stuff to close and will likely be the next along the lines of Lidge-F.Rodriguez-Ryan as a setup man with high Ks converted to full-time closer. Take a flier on him, or his AL counterpart Rafael Soriano (yes, I said it), and enjoy the Ks until the saves start flowing in. (I took them both in my keeper league). I'd expect 2 Wins, 17 SV, 75K, 2.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.
3. Jimmy Rollins - He was one of my second half picks to click and he did not let me down. This guy is the complete package and he's only getting better. Think about all the hype Carl Crawford gets, then put him at a more scarce position. He'll be a first round pick next year, so grab him in the 2nd or 3rd this year while you still can. I'm predicting a silly line of .300-120-18-70-45.
2. Ryan Howard - Yes, another Philly. This guy is the real deal and a 40-HR season is easily within his grasp. If you've already had an auction, you probably got in as low as possible, because his stock is rising every day he adds to his Spring Training homerun tally. Let's say he'll go around .275-85-38-95-0 this year.
1. Adrian Beltre - Most people in your league have probably had Beltre at some point in the past, and are going to be very bitter about this guy after all the bad seasons he's produced, then the one monster, followed by last year's less than stellar outing. But he's turning 27 this year...yes, the magical age. So, you've got a guy who's been in the league a while and disappointed on most occassions but is about to turn 27. I've heard of a guy like this...last year's number one pick, Andruw Jones. Lightning will strike again. Grab this guy and expect numbers close to my Howard projections.
And those are my fantasy baseball picks for this year. I'll have to check back in July and see how I'm doing at the halfway point.