Maybe it’s too small a sample for me to speak in general terms, but a lot of Phillies fans seem to give extra preference to hometown players when assembling their fantasy baseball squads. Hey, if you’re not a seamhead, go with what you know. I can dig it.
But for the sake of your team’s success, you may be able to put off drafting a Philly player by a round or two, sometimes more. Where do the Phillies’ bright stars rank among the rest of baseball’s fantasy studs? Where should you feel most comfortable taking Cole Hamels? Is Jimmy Rollins still a top five shortstop?
There’s probably no way to break this all down without getting a little sloppy, so I’ll do my best to keep your eyes from crossing. I’ll take a look at the eight projected positional starters, five projected starting pitchers and Brad Lidge. The bench players and bullpen – including Francisco, Gload, Dobbs and Madson – aren’t guys you should consider outside of very deep, many-teamed NL only leagues.
The offseason is far from over, so I’ll be sure to update this as we approach March draft dates. For now, here’s where we stand with the current stock of red pinstripers.
In this post, we’ll look at the Phils’ likely starting eight.
Carlos Ruiz – C, #51
2009 Totals – 107 G, 322 AB, .255/.355/.425
26 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 3/5 SB
2010 Projections – 113 G, 349 AB, .258/.339/.404
22 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 2/4 SB
Ruiz surprised a lot of people – myself definitely included – with a very strong second half of 2009. He showed great discipline, and probably deserved to bat ahead of Pedro Feliz for the final two months or so last year, robbing him of some RBI. He’s still not in the same class as Brain McCann or Joe Mauer, for certain, but he’s a serviceable guy to have four out of five days. Still, I wouldn’t take him as one of the first 10 catchers off the board; his lack of power slots him below guys he would otherwise be on the same plane with.
Don’t Draft Before: Buster Posey
Take Ahead Of: Gregg Zaun
Ryan Howard – 1B, #6
2009 Totals – 160 G, 616 AB, .279/.360/.571
37 2B, 4 3B, 45 HR, 141 RBI, 8/9 SB
2010 Projections – 148 G, 575 AB, .266/.347/.551
28 2B, 2 3B, 44 HR, 130 RBI, 2/3 SB
In fantasy baseball, Ryan Howard is even bigger than in real life. He hits fourth in a big lineup, directly behind Chase Utley, and has great power. You could make the argument that Howard is more valuable as a fantasy player than an actual player. The truth is this: Howard’s a big guy, and soon he’s going to begin to decline. I thought he was already on that path heading into 2009, but he bucked trends that had developed over the previous two seasons and put up a very nice line; his best since his mammoth 2006. Don’t expect a sharp decline this season, though. The guy is still pretty young and hitting in that same, strong lineup. You can certainly rely on him to be your main HR and RBI supply, but take his strikeouts into effect if your league scores them. Additionally, this is a deep group of players. There are many that could be taken ahead of Howard, and that’s more a testament to the quality of the other players than it is a slight on Howard.
Don’t Draft Before: Miguel Cabrera
Take Ahead Of: Derrek Lee
Chase Utley – 2B, #26
2009 Totals – 156 G, 571 AB, .282/.397/.508
28 2B, 4 3B, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 23/23 SB
2010 Projections – 145 G, 564 AB, .287/.382/.502
34 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 12/14 SB
Oh, hey, this guy. Look, I’ve used superlatives on Utley to the point where I’ve essentially run out and have needed to create new ones. Like Will Ferrell and “scrumtrilescent.” Utley is basically marvexcellendous. That pretty much says everything.
Don’t Draft Before: Another second baseman
Take Ahead Of: Every other second baseman
Jimmy Rollins – SS, #11
2009 Totals – 155 G, 672 AB, .250/.296/.423
43 2B, 5 3B, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 31/39 SB
2010 Projections – 146 G, 630 AB, .273/.328/.448
39 2B, 7 3B, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 30/36 SB
Rollins’s 2009 was a major disappointment. Many swings ended in either misses or infield pop-ups, and it seemed like Rollins became more desperate to get hits as the season progressed. A .296 OBP is a terrible thing to have at the top of your order, and there are now two superior options in Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. Of course, neither will actually lead off games outside of the days Rollins rests, but that’s neither here nor there. Rollins should have a better season than he did in 2009, and he’ll still have nice RBI totals from that spot given his power. He’ll still score runs, given who he hits in front of. He’ll be a good pick again this year, but 2007 isn’t coming back. He won’t get 30 homers and is a very long shot for 20 triples, but the guy’s still got skills with the bat. You may be able to snag him in a later round as a solid buy-low candidate.
Don’t Draft Before: Yunel Escobar
Take Ahead Of: Elvis Andrus
Placido Polanco – 3B, #27
2009 Totals – 153 G, 618 AB, .285/.331/.396
31 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 72 RBI, 7/9 SB
2010 Projections – 135 G, 552 AB, .295/.345/.415
30 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 64 RBI, 4/6 SB
The CHONE projections seem to have Polanco’s numbers getting a favorable boost moving to the NL and playing in Citizens Bank Park, but he’s still a below average 3B and won’t even gain eligibility there to start the year, most likely. Knowing that, his draft stock takes a tumble. What do you take him as? A second or third baseman? Your answer to that question should heavily affect your stance toward him. If you want Polanco playing third, you’ll want to wait a while before taking him. If you want him at second, though, you can take him earlier and get a pretty decent return on investment. He’s not a power guy, but he’ll still put up some above-average numbers for your team if you’re in the later rounds and still without a second baseman.
Don’t Draft Before: Gordon Beckham
Take Ahead Of: Garrett Atkins
Raul Ibanez – LF, #29
2009 Totals – 134 G, 500 AB, .272/.347/.552
32 2B, 3 3B, 34 HR, 93 RBI, 4/4 SB
2010 Projections – 134 G, 521 AB, .267/.332/.484
28 2B, 2 3B, 27 HR, 96 RBI, 1/2 SB
Ok, which one is it gonna be? Are we getting the Ibanez of before the ’09 all-star break, or post-groin injury? The answer – in a surprise cop-out – is somewhere in between. Ibanez has a history of being a pretty good contact guy with average-to-above-average power. He draws walks at a pretty good clip, too, and though he probably won’t be setting another career high in homers, his production is still worthy of a pick in the first six or seven rounds.
Don’t Draft Before: Adam Lind
Take Ahead Of: Ryan Ludwick
Shane Victorino – CF, #8
2009 Totals – 156 G, 620 AB, .292/.358/.445
39 2B, 13 3B, 10 HR, 62 RBI, 25/33 SB
2010 Projections – 147 G, 515 AB, .283/.349/.425
29 2B, 7 3B, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 22/29 SB
Shane Victorino is pretty easy to project. You know you’re getting a .280-.295 average with 10-15 HR and some steals. With his speed, he should be a more successful base robber, but something always seems to keep him from stealing 30-plus bags at a 75 percent rate or better. Again, lack of power hurts here, but a good average with a pretty good amount of extra-base hit power give him some value.
Don’t Draft Before: Franklin Gutierrez
Take Ahead Of: Brett Gardner
Jayson Werth – RF, #28
2009 Totals – 159 G, 571 AB, .268/.373/.506
26 2B, 1 3B, 36 HR, 99 RBI, 20/23 SB
2010 Projections – 137 G, 442 AB, .262/.363/.473
20 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 12/14 SB
CHONE, it appears, is not very bullish on Werth repeating his ’09 performance. That probably has something to do with Werth’s difficulties against right-handed pitching. He’s a very patient hitter and will see plenty of pitches, increasing the chance of seeing a good pitch at some time during nearly every AB. Durability could be a concern, but that’s a red flag that could be raised on every Philly hitter’s page given how Charlie Manuel likes to run his starters hard. Don’t factor that into your draft strategy, though; Werth showed that he could play a full year and still swing with pop in the playoffs.
Don’t Draft Before: Justin Upton
Take Ahead Of: Hunter Pence