Jonathan Gangi

Outside the Boxscore

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Guys to Remember in '08

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This week I'll discuss some guys who are on my radar for next year's draft. Then I'll debate with some emailers on the topic of drafting hitters early.

Thanks to all of you for tuning into OTBS this season. I had a lot of fun, as always. See you in April!

Topic of the Week: Guys to Remember in '08

I don't know about you, but at the end of every season I make a mental list of guys to remember for the following year's draft. Of course, by the time the season rolls around, some of those names have escaped me…that is until someone else shouts them out on draft day. So, with that in mind, I'm writing my list down this time. That way, we can both refer back to it later.

Wily Mo Pena – David Ortiz is on record as saying Wily Mo is going to be just like Big Papi once he gets enough at bats to figure out the curveball. How's that for an endorsement? Based on his performance since the trade to Washington, it seems Wily is determined to prove him right. In 118 at bats with the Nationals, he is hitting .295 with eight long balls. Expect Pena to start next year, and expect him to provide value. If 2008 turns out to be his "breakout" season, he'll be the steal of the draft.

Jacoby Ellsbury – The first Native American of Navajo descent to make the major leagues, Ellsbury is a fantasy goldmine waiting to happen—mainly because of his Randy Moss type speed. I've watched him beat out seemingly routine grounders and take second base off a pickoff attempt at first. He has the potential to swipe 50 bases under the right circumstances. But what sets him apart from the Scott Podsedniks is that Ellsbury can also hit for average—he posted a .313 AVG in three seasons in the minors—and provide some pop as well. The only question is, when will he have a full-time gig?

Rick Ankiel – We all know this amazing roller coaster of a story. Who knows what major development lies around the corner with this guy. What's important from a fantasy standpoint is that the former pitching phenom can truly mash. If we didn't know about the crazy control issues that led him to step down from the mound, you'd think he was inspired by that classic "Chicks dig the longball" commercial with Greg Maddux and Tommy Glavine. Between the majors and minors this year, Ankiel has 42 round trippers. The question is, how much of those can be attributed to HGH? If he comes back next year with an IRod-type shrinkage, steer clear. If, on the other hand, he can still be mistaken for Mark McGwire from a distance, draft away.

Jason Kubel – After some injury plagued seasons, Kubel has come on strong in the second half of this season, hitting .298 with six HR in 168 AB. He could finally fulfill his potential next season.

Nate McLouth – He doesn't hit for much of an average, but he can steal you bases and provide a little pop to boot. Who ever knows what's going to happen in Pittsburgh, but McLouth will have nice fantasy value if given the playing time.

James Loney – The Dodgers' first baseman finished extremely strong with eight dingers and 33 RBI over the last month. On the season, he's hit .335 with 15 HR in 325 AB. The power is somewhat surprising, as he didn't show much pop before being called up. Then again, despite playing in the minors since 2002, the kid is just 23 years old. One thing we know for sure is that he can hit for average. Last year he batted .380 for Triple-A Las Vegas en route to winning the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year honors.

Kevin Kouzmanoff – Due to a terrible April, Kouzmanoff's totals aren't all that impressive. Consider, however, that he hit .330 with 10 HR after the break. He'll likely be undervalued going into next season.

Yovani Gallardo – After a great start to his major-league career, Gallardo stumbled for a couple of outings in August—amazingly left in to allow 18 earned runs over two starts. Over the last month, though, he has been dominant to the tune of a 1.03 ERA. This kid destroyed minor-league hitting and could be an elite fantasy starter as soon as next year.

Clay Buchholz – So far, Buchholz has lived up to they hype, posting a 1.59 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in 22.1 IP for the Red Sox. His no-hitter proved that he can certainly handle the pressure of the Bigs. Over three seasons in the minors, Buchholz posted a 2.46 ERA and 11.23 Ks per nine innings. If he can crack the Sox rotation next season, he'll be a draft-day deal.

Dustin McGowan – Another young arm who seems to be hitting stride, McGowan showed flashes of brilliance down the stretch…like when he whiffed 12 batters against the Devil Rays and nine against the Red Sox. Over the last month, he managed a 3.67 ERA and a fantastic 1.02 WHIP to go along with 35 Ks in 34 IP.

The Trash Dump

To submit a question or comment to the Trash Dump, email

Gangi, what kind of league do you play in where Orlando Hudson was among the top 50 hitters at the start of the season? Was Freddy Sanchez in your top 10? Was Jack Wilson the league's MVP?
- Dennis

Totally. What makes no sense is that Hudson's numbers this season are pretty comparable to last year's, yet he's ranked 208 overall now versus 63 in the preseason. You know how it goes with these rankings, though…they often make less sense than Premonition.

I agree 100% about drafting hitters. I am leading my league because I have almost a perfect score in the hitting categories, while I am in the middle of the pack in the pitching categories. Starting pitching is a crap shoot. Who could have predicted that Tom Gorzelanny would outperform Scott Olsen or Anibal Sanchez? As for the guy with all the transactions, instead of limiting the number of transactions, how about making people pay extra for each transaction over a designated amount? We put in that rule two years ago, after one particular owner went nuts, basically turning over about half of his pitching staff every few days.
- Tom H

Good idea, so long as you can get all of the owners to agree to it.

I totally agree with you about taking hitters early. I was in an auction last year, and while big name pitchers were going for $25 - $30 or more, I waited until everyone had spent their pitching budget and got Peavy and Haren for less than $15 each.
- Rob

Peavy for less than $15? I know he was coming off a down year, but still!

Love the column, but I think there's a converse to your argument about batters holding their value better. I had the top pick in a 16-team snake-style draft this year. I took Pujols first, who to me did not hold his value even if he's top 50, and took Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb on the turn in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Fast-forward to Sunday night and I won my championship. I felt like those two pitchers were sure things for high K, low ERA/WHIP, and high innings-pitched seasons. They were, and with a solid supporting cast of waiver wire guys in the rest of the rotation, I pretty much won those three categories every week. If sure things are hard to find at pitcher than the few who are up there are all the more valuable. Hence the reason for drafting them early comes from the old business refrain about supply and demand. With such a small supply of sure things at the position, and equal demand, snagging one early can grant a sizable advantage down the road.
- Adi

Yes, but picking the pitchers who will "hold their value" is a lot more difficult than picking the hitters who will. Your guys Peavy and Webb lived up to expectations, as did Johan Santana, Josh Beckett, and C.C. Sabathia. However, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Carlos Zambrano, Felix Hernandez, Rich Hill, Ben Sheets, John Maine, Matt Cain, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jered Weaver, Jeremy Bonderman, and of course Rich Harden and Chris Carpenter all fell short to varying degrees. By contrast, the only top hitters whose numbers were significantly sub par were Manny Ramirez and Travis Hafner.

In a roto league, yes you probably have a point {about drafting hitters early}. However, in a head-to-head league, I think there is definitely a benefit to drafting pitching early. The benefit of top pitchers is that their starts for the most part are pretty consistent, they don't have too many blow ups. In a head to head league where your match-up lasts one week, one or two blow ups can kill you. I grabbed Peavy, Webb, Hamels, and Hill early in my draft and then traded for Beckett early in the season and my pitching has carried me into the championship match-up in my league.
- Glenn

If it works for you…but again, you were fortunate enough to get the starters that did pan out. Personally, I plan to stock up on hitting next year to dominate those categories then just pick up two-start pitchers each week to secure Ks and Ws.

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