Friday, February 1, 2008

Matt's Stats: Baseball Preview Edition

As a die hard Mets fan this has been by far the most exciting week of the offseason with Johan Santana coming to Queens. I always thought there was a chance of the trade happening, but I never could have imagined that they could get him without trading Fernando Martinez, Mike Pelfrey, or Aaron Heilman as part of the deal. Pretty much the Mets gave up nothing in the offer and it reverses all the bad mojo and bad momentum the Mets had with the collapse at the end of the 2007 season. The 2008 baseball season is already off to a great start and pitchers and catchers are still a good 2 weeks away! Anyway, now that my celebratory Mets rant is complete it's on to the First Base Preview.


1) Ryan Howard (1B - Philadelphia Phillies) - As a Mets fan, I hate to say it but there is no question that Howard is the best first baseman in the league. Hitting in the bandbox that is Citizen Bank Park guarantees that he will compete for an MVP award and hit about 50 HR and 130 RBI year in and year out. Adding Feliz as their 3B improves the Philly order and could lead to even more run production for Howard. When you are taking your 1B in this year's draft, make sure you rank Howard at the top of your list.

2) Prince Fielder (1B - Milwaukee Brewers) - He was a great steal by many last year as was evidenced by his 50 HR 119 RBI .288 .avg as a 6th round pick last year helping my team win it's championship. Unfortunately there is no way Fielder lasts this long in drafts, as he figures to have a repeat of his 2007 performance as the Brewers continue to improve. Try to get Fielder if you can in this year's draft.

3) Albert Pujols (1B - St. Louis Cardinals) - In many of the past seasons Pujols was the first or second player taken overall, let alone being the first first basemen to be taken off the draft board. Pujols had a bit of an off year last year by his standards (still hitting .327 with 32 HR and 103 RBI) on a dissapointing Cardinals team. While I don't necessarily think the Cardinals will be any better this year, I think a healthy Pujols should be back to his normal RBI and HR production in 2008. Don't forget that Pujols has gotten over 100 RBI's in all seven years of his career and has hit over 40 HR for four consecutive seasons (2003-2006). Pujols will make an excellent pick come draft day.

4) Justin Morneau (1B - Minnesota Twins) - Fresh off a new long term contract, Morneau will be looking for his third consecutive season of at least 31 HR and 111 RBI. His average may have been down 50 points last year from his 2006 avg., but even if he is more of a .270 hitter, it still makes for one of the best picks at the position. Draft the 2006 AL MVP winner if you can in 2008.

5) Paul Konerko (1B - Chicago White Sox) - Like many of the White Sox last year, Konerko had an off year. It was his worst year since 2003, hitting .259 with 31 HR and 90 RBI. Chicago should bounce back somewhat this year and I expect Konerko to do the same. At only 32 years old on Opening Day, Konerko should still be in the prime of his career. I'd expect a return to 100 RBI and 35 HR for Konerko in 2008.

Stay away from Carlos Pena (1B - Tampa Bay Rays) - I'm not sold yet on Pena who has been largely a journey man player for most of his 7 year career. There is a high possibility that Pena could be a one year wonder and assuming that someone jumps on him very early in the draft because of last season (46 HR and 121 RBI in 2007), I'd hold off on the risk and take a more proven player. Pena may have finally turned the tide on his career, but to me the early pick it would take to get Pena is not worth the risk.

Questions and Answers:

As I said last week, this section will be used to answer any questions regarding Fantasy Baseball that you may have. Do you have a question on a specific player, team, or league format? Post it in the comments section and I will be happy to respond in the next Matt's Stats. I'd like to thank Eddie Fenster for being the first person to send in questions, so here we go:

1) I am in a keeper league and I always hear about Victor Martinez becoming a 1B or DH. Should I be concerned?

I would not be concerned as of yet, because no matter what he will be eligible at C in 2008. That being said, watch closely over the first half of the season and if it appears the Indians are starting to use Martinez more at 1B or DH I would recommend trading him to someone valuing him as the top Keeper Catcher. Martinez's value goes down quite a bit if he changes positions, so if more evidence continues to mount against Martinez staying as C I would look for a trade, but to start the season I'd hold on to him.

2) My other league is an NL-only league with two catchers meaning we need backups. As a Mets fan, is Ramon Castro a viable option?

If you always need backup catchers then Ramon Castro is one of the best backup catchers in the NL. That being said however, I would never recommend Castro under normal circumstances for a fantasy team. Brian Schneider will be the Mets starter, and should play about the same amount of games that Lo Duca played in last year. Look for only 70-90 games played for the Mets this year out of Castro, but as was the case last year Castro will make the most of his opportunity.

3) Also for my NL-only league with two catchers, where does Ryan Doumit rank on your list?

I'm a Mets fan but I am pretty high on Doumit. As someone who has a Doumit bobblehead and started him for half of the season last year on my championship fantasy team. Doumit hit .274 with 9 HR and 32 RBI last year and I see no reason why an upgrade to 13-15 HR and 60 RBI wouldn't be possible when Doumit gets more playing time in 2008. I would consider Doumit to be around 6 or 7 in my NL Catcher Rankings if he still qualifies at the position in your league (don't forget he only played in 28 games there last year before moving to the OF) and he should make a very good mid-late round option in NL only leagues.

That's it for now, thanks for the good questions. Have a great weekend and you can all look for the Second Base preview next week!

Related Posts by Subject