Mark St. Amant

Fantasy Man-Crush Index

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Surprise, Surprise

Wednesday, July 08, 2009




SECOND BASE:
Pleasant -- Aaron Hill's .295/20 HR/59 RBI/50 R line. Just plain out of nowhere. He'll be the difference maker in countless roto titles this year. (Honorable mention -- Ian Stewart's 15 bombs; the former Robinson Can"Oh-for-three-with-a-walk" turning back into Robinson Cano with .303/13 HR/43 RBI/54 R.)

Unpleasant -- I pimped Mike Aviles left and right as being no fluke last season, and took him in every league a round or two early. Turns out, a near-30-year-old who hit .325 in 419 career MLB at-bats was, in fact, a fluke. Shocker! (Honorable mention: Dustin Pedroia's 3 HR, which actually shouldn't have surprised anyone; Alexei Ramirez killing owners early; Howie Kendrick's demotion.)

Second half surprise -- Jose Lopez. One of my other favorite under-the-radar 2Bs on draft day, Lopez started horribly (.233 in April & May) but hit .329 with 5 HR and 20 RBI in June. A recent bereavement leave derailed him a little bit, and he's a notorious second half slumper, but I'm a buyer because he's streaky and in that magical age 27ish season.

SHORTSTOP:
Pleasant -- A tie between two Rays teammates, Ben Zobrist (.281/16 HR/46 RBI/43 R/8 SB) and Jason Bartlett (.358/8 HR/37 RBI/45 R/17 SB). Zobrist hasn't been seeing many fastballs lately after his hot start, but he's legit. (Honorable mention: resurgence of old timers Derek Jeter (.316/10 HR/17 SB) and Miguel Tejada (.326); Troy Tulowitzki's sudden rebound (13 HR, even chipping in 11 SB.)

Unpleasant -- While Jose Reyes deserves mentioning, his failures are mostly injury-related, so we default to – shocker -- Jimmy Rollins. A consensus first-rounder just can't pull a .217/7 HR/32 RBI/43 R/11 SB (5 CS) Houdini like this . . . and that's with his recent surge. (Honorable mention: J.J. Hardy's .229/9 HR; Rafael Furcal's .254 and lowly 5-for-9 SB rate; Orlando Cabrera. Blecch.)

Second half surprise -- Asdrubal Cabrera. His DL stint took him off people's radar a bit, but he's still in the midst of a breakout season (.304/41 R).

THIRD BASE:
Pleasant -- While David Wright's 20 SBs are nice after totaling only 15 last year, they're offset by his mere 5 HR. And Scott Rolen's nice resurgence (.327, 44 R) has also come without much power (6 HR). So Mark Reynolds' .269/24 HR/61 RBI/53 R/13 SB line wins easily here considering his cost. I don't see him running as much in the second half – only 3-5 in June after going 8-for-10 in May -- but at age 25 in a HR-friendly park, a 40 HR/20-25 SB season is almost a lock. (Honorable mention: Chone Figgins' .325 AVG, 50 SB pace and 3B-leading 61 Runs; Marco Scutaro's 60 Runs.)

Unpleasant -- Chipper Jones' .291 AVG and 18 HR pace say "quick decline" to me, but it's ARod's .244 AVG and Rusty Staub speed (2 SB) that's killing owners the most. That and his late night gallivanting – yes, I said "gallivanting" – with Kate "chest of an 11-year-old-boy" Hudson. Funny, I always figured ARod for a silicone/Russ Meyer kinda guy. (Honorable mention: Adrian Beltre's flailing at outside pitches like Vlad . . . but without the success; Jorge Cantu's power outage: 7 of 9 HRs came in April).

Second half surprise -- Over his career, pre- and post-All-Star-Game, Aubrey Huff has traditionally ramped up his AVG (.272 to .302), HR (92 to 107), SLG (.447 to .519) OPS (.779 to .876) and cut down in his Ks (373 to 298). Buy.

OUTFIELD:
Pleasant -- Even with the DL stint, it's gotta be Raul Ibanez and his .312/22 HR/59 RBI/51 R explosion. He absolutely carried his owners, along with the Phils while craptastic Rollins languished, for most of the first half. (Honorable mention: Torii Hunter's .307/17 HR/65 RBI/56 R/13 SB; Justin Upton's .300/15 HR/48 RBI/51 R/11 SB; Adam Jones' .308 and 52 Runs; Curtis Granderson's 30/30 potential (18 HR/15 SBs); Sin-Soo Choo's .301 AVG and 20/20 potential (12 HR/13 SB); Michael Bourn's improved plate discipline (.359 OBP, 27 SBs); Nelson Cruz's 40-plus HR pace; Johnny Damon's renaissance (.287/16 HR/49 RBI, OF-leading 61 R; Jayson Werth (only NL OF besides Justin Upton, Nate McLouth & Matt Kemp to have double digit HR/SB.)

Unpleasant -- Alfonso Soriano's .226/14 HR/32 RBI/47 R/7 SB, which, minus a couple steals, is what Nick Swisher/Juan Rivera/Mike Cameron owners are basically getting . . . for less. (Honorable mention -- Grady Sizemore (the only reason his .231/8 SBs isn't the top bust is because Soriano's been healthy); Chris Young (.196); Ryan Ludwick (.237/11 HR); Vernon Wells (one of worst contracts in baseball); Magglio Ordonez (Glorious, flowing, sparkling mane? Yes. Power? No.) Vladimir Guerrero (4 HR).

Second half surprise -- While I like Sizemore to finish strong health permitting, I gotta go with Nick Markakis. Maybe we expected too much (only 8 HR and 2 SB, along with a sub-.300 AVG), but he could be had relatively low and his career .798 to .913 OPS second-half surge could be yours. Deep runner-up: Colby Rasmus.

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For two seasons, Mark St. Amant was the fantasy football writer for the New York Times.com. He is also the author of Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie and Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player, and has written for New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine and Salon.com.
Email :Mark St. Amant


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