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DOs And DONTs: Colorado Rockies

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DOs And DONTs: Colorado Rockies

Posted on 10 February 2012 by Daniel Aubain

This edition of DOs And DON’Ts will focus on the 40-man roster of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have been very active this offseason, tinkering with a roster that, as a whole, underachieved in 2011 despite having two of the game’s best offensive players as well as a bunch of very useful fantasy baseball options.

  • DO what you can to draft SS Troy Tulowitzki as the best shortstop option in the game. He’s currently being drafted with an ADP (average draft position) of 4.61 in mock drafts on MockDraftCentral.com and could easily give you a robust 5×5 return of .300/100/30/100/10 in 2012. Don’t forget, he stole 20 bases in 2009 but has steadily declined (11 in 2010; 9 in 2011) since then so keep the stolen base expectations low and be happily surprised if he runs more this season.
  • DON’T expect 1B Todd Helton to give you the production you need out of your primary first base option. He’ll give you a decent average and near 15 home runs as a corner infielder (CI), infielder (IF) or a utility player (UTL) in very deep, mixed league formats or NL-only ones with expanded rosters. With two season left on his current contract, look for the Rockies to start auditioning some younger guys (Tyler Colvin) as the season wears on with an eye on the future.
  • DO pair up OF Carlos Gonzalez with Tulo if you love the Rockies and love winning at fantasy baseball. CarGo gives you the exact same 5×5 line as Tulo (.300/100/30/100) except with the ability to steal 20+ bases. Injuries robbed him of some of his numbers in 2011 but you need to be drafting him under the assumption he’s healthy and ready to be an elite fantasy option in 2012.
  • DON’T invest a pick in any of the players in the mix at third base for the Rockies (Casey Blake; Chris Nelson, etc.) not named Nolan Arenado unless you’re in a dynasty league or another type with a minor league system built in. He may not make it to the majors in 2012 but is currently the future at this position for the Rox.
  • DO watch to see what positions 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer qualifies for in your league come draft day. He played 17 games at second base in 2011 and has the most fantasy impact at that position. RotoChamp.com projects a .274/71/18/75/9 line for him in 2012 and that would rank as the 12th-best option at second base.
  • DON’T rush to grab SP Jhoulys Chacin too early, no matter how much you love him as a sleeper. He’ll probably go undrafted in your standard 8-10 team shallow leagues and is currently notching an ADP of 192.21 on MockDraftCentral.com. His sub-4.00 ERA, 13+ Win potential and 175+ Strikeouts will definitely help you in deeper leagues but be aware of his career 4.2 BB/9, 1.89 K/BB and 1.31 WHIP. General Manager Dan O’Dowd has already called out Chacin for being overweight and not working hard this offseason. Stay tuned.
  • DO draft OF Dexter Fowler for his speed. After stealing 27 bases in 2009, he’s been sort of a let down on the base paths with only 13 steals in 2010 and 12 in 2011. Expect him to be a fixture in the leadoff spot for the Rockies in 2012 with the green light to run.
  • DON’T forget new CL Rafael Betancourt when drafting your closers. His high Strikeout numbers (10.5 K/9) coupled with rarely walking batters (1.2 BB/9) led to a superior K/BB ratio of 9.13 and a minuscule WHIP of 0.87 in 2011. It will be interesting to see how he performs during his first true shot as a team’s closer.
  • DO look for C Ramon Hernandez to have a successful first season in Colorado. Look for him to get 300-400 at bats and provide a dozen or so home runs with a batting average you can live with. He’s a “must own” in all two-catcher format leagues and and in NL-only leagues, where he’s possibly the 5th or 6th-best option (Brian McCann; Buster Posey; Miguel Montero; Yadier Molina; Jonathan Lucroy) behind the plate.
  • DON’T draft newly-acquired SP Jeremy Guthrie. He’s not much of a strikeout pitcher (5.5 K/9 career rate) and will probably be no better than he was with the Orioles.
  • DO keep an eye on 2B/SS Marco Scutaro this Spring. He could wind up being the Rockies everyday second baseman and hitting in the number two slot in the order. Again, he’s really only on your radar in NL-only or very deep, mixed leagues with additional roster spots for middle infielders.

The Rockies should continue to be competitive in the relatively weak NL West especially if an additional wild card team is added into the playoff mix for 2012. Keep an eye on some of the Spring battles surely to take place (third base; second base if Scutaro falters; starting pitching) for players who could climb into the “sleeper” category for those of you who draft later rather than sooner than most.

Be sure to leave a comment if I overlooked a player you have your eye on or one that I’ve over/under-valued. I’m very active on Twitter at @DJAubain talking mostly baseball but adding a certain level of snarkiness to my tweets most seem to appreciate and enjoy.

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Matt Kemp: The Real NL MVP

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Matt Kemp: The Real NL MVP

Posted on 06 February 2012 by Jared Thatcher

With all the media coverage of Ryan Braun’s alleged performance enhancing drug usage, many fans have called for him to surrender the MVP award. First of all, Major League Baseball can not force Braun to give up the award because it was not given out by them. Secondly, it would be terribly hard for them to prove that whatever he took actually helped him put up better numbers. He has always been a great hitter and is currently in his prime so why would anyone expect anything less than MVP caliber numbers? The real question is: Why was Braun voted the NL MVP in the first place?

Matt Kemp should have been the NL MVP, hands down. Let’s start with the 2011 Dodgers batting order. Kemp hit behind lead-off men Dee Gordon (.338 OBP) and Tony Gwynn Jr., neither of whom are very threatening in the lead-off role. Batting second was a combination of a rusty and slow Casey Blake, and sometimes the compact Aaron Miles. Once again, these guys are nothing to write home about. Kemp hit third in 158 PA but predominately hit fourth behind Andre Either. Either was on a tear at the beginning of the season but slowly faded out and was injured for a few games. He posted a nice .292 BA but has no power (11 HR) and did nothing on the base paths either. Kemp then hit fourth most of the time and was “protected” by James Loney in the five-spot. Loney hit .288 with 12 HR and he only drove in 65 runs. So how in the world did Kemp hit .324 with 39 HRs and 126 RBIs while scoring 115 runs? Who was driving him in? Who was on base when he was hitting for him to drive home? Let’s look at Ryan Braun now.

Ryan Braun hit third almost the entire season. Leading off the Brewers was Rickie Weeks (.347 OBP) who has power and some speed, and Corey Hart (.356 OBP) who has power and makes good contact. Batting second most of the year was Nyjer Morgan (.357 OBP) who has some speed (13 SB) and great plate discipline (.304 AVG). Then of course Braun hit and protecting him in the clean up spot was Prince Fielder. Fielder drove in 120 runs with 38 HR and a .299 average. That is what a hitter in the 3-hole wants as protection. No one would walk or pitch around Braun just so they could get to Fielder. That’s a pretty good 1-4 in the lineup and it allowed Braun to hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBIs. Those are great numbers but what if Matt Kemp was hitting third in that lineup!?!

Kemp beat out Braun in almost every category except for slugging percentage and OPS. Kemp led the NL in runs scored (115), HR (39), RBIs (126),stolen bases (40), wins above replacement (10.0), total bases (353), and runs created (141). These numbers are all pretty close between the two players but lets look at the teams they played on. The Dodgers lineup was mediocre at best (see above paragraphs) and they finished the season 82-79, just above .500 for the season. Without Kemp’s 10.0 wins above replacement the Dodgers would have finished 72-89 in 2011, putting them in fourth place and only one win above last place in the division. Kemp scored 17.8% of the Dodgers runs himself and he drove in 19.6% of the Dodgers runs. Braun on the other hand was only worth 7.7 wins above replacement (still really good) so without him the Brewers would have finished the season at about 89-73, still allowing them to be in the wild card race and only one game back from clinching the division. In other words the Brewers would have still been really good. Braun was better than Kemp defensively but he plays a less rigorous position in LF than Kemp plays in CF.

I hope I haven’t lost you or bored you by all the stats and comparisons in the last couple of paragraphs. I said all of that to say this: Matt Kemp was much more valuable of a player to the Dodgers than Ryan Braun was to the Brewers. Kemp was superior in almost every category while playing for a less talented team. Braun was surrounded by talent on a better team and was a valuable asset to them during their playoff run in 2011, but he should not have been named the NL MVP. Matt Kemp got snuffed this year and if Braun really did use PEDs, it makes Kemp’s season look even that more impressive. Next year I hope the voters get it right and give the MVP award to the player who really was his teams Most Valuable Player.

 

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