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Looking to 09: Chris Dickerson

In this edition of Looking to 09 we take a look at a Cincinatti outfielder who put up numbers in a hurry when he got his shot at big league duty.  Chris Dickerson is sure to be on the radar of fantasy teams in 2009 and as of now looks like the starting LF for the Reds.  What can we expect over a full season from Dickerson?  Let’s take a look…

Starting from square one, it would be hard to imagine that Dickerson would have put up such good numbers at the big league level in 2009.  Dickerson was drafted in the 16thround in the 2003 draft.  His college numbers did not look all that impressive, but his athleticism was worth a shot at developing.  Through 5 seasons in the minors and stops at every level along the way, Dickerson compiled a career minor league AVG of .260.  The biggest part of Dickerson’s game became his SB potential.  He stole 30 in 2004, 19 in 2005, 21 in 2006, 30 in 2007 and 31 between AAA and the majors last season.  What concerns I have over his AVG are somewhat calmed by the fact that, like almost every part of his game, it has progressed upwards since 2004. 

Dickerson is no young prospect.  Last season he broke into the majors at age 26.  He’ll be 27 in April.  The age means that he should be in the peak years of what he can do as a ballplayer.   The problem is that a hot stretch of 102 AB’s in 2008 is too small of a sample size to tell if he can counter the adjustments that major league pitchers will make on him.  The other problem is his BB/K ratio.  Which stands at 0.49 for his career.  His K% translates to around the 160-170 over 550 AB’s.  The strikeouts combined with an extremely high BABIP (.410), an inflated OBP (.413) and SLG (.608) all combine to make a regression likely. 

What does this all mean?  He has speed (20-30 SB’s).  He has moderate power (10-15 HR’s and maybe a ceiling of 20 if everything clicks?).  He strikes out a lot and does not have a great track record of hitting for a high AVG.  What does this mean for 2009?  He will struggle to hit much above .275, but he’ll pop a few HR’s and steal 20+ bases with full playing time.  Dickerson is worth a flyer in deeper mixed leagues and of course more valuable in NL only leagues.  Though don’t be completely surprised if he ends the year on the bench or back at AAA. 

Citi Field Will be a Hitters Nightmare

I just came across this great article over at Amazin Avenue.  Author Eric Simon did a Q&A with hittrackeronline.com’s Greg Rybarczyk.  Rybarczky got his hands on the drawn to scale Citi field prints and he predicts it could become the best pitchers park in the big leagues.  It looks like there could be dramatic affects to left handed power hitters in particular.  You can read the full article here.

The Decline of Garrett Atkins

Three seasons ago Garrett Atkins was a fantasy darling.  That year he burst onto the scene hitting .329 with 29 HR’s.  Since that season it has been a straight decline for three years in a row. 



You may be well aware of his home/road splits:




While Coors can help any hitter, to me it’s less about the ballpark and more about the player.  Coming through the Rockies system, Atkins was always a guy who showed he could hit for AVG.  There was power, but nothing close to the 29 he hit in 2006.  What really concerns me is the huge drop in OBP which has been a direct result of less walks and more strikeouts.  For the third year in a row Atkins’s contact rate declined.  This was a direct result of swinging at more pitches out of the strikezone.  In 2006 Atkins swung at a pitch out of the strikezone 14.7% of the time.  In 2007 that percentage rose to 18.7% and to 19.1% in 2008.  Atkins value is heavily reliant upon him making contact which is becoming an issue.  He has proven that when you make contact in Coors field good things happen.  The problem is nothing can happen if you don’t put the ball in play. 


At one point after the 2006 season, we thought that Atkins could become a fantasy stud who would hit .330 with 30 HR’s consistently.  What we have now is a player who makes for an adequate fantasy 3B and less adequate 1B.  At age 29 Atkins is far from a wash-up, but he has shown over the past two seasons that he is not capable of a consistent approach at the plate.  He has the ability to hit .290-.300 with 20 HR’s in 2009.  However, anything more would require a major turnaround in plate discipline and that’s a trend that’s on it’s way down. 

Fantasy Impact: Smoltz, Baldelli New Sawx

Baldelli’s impact will be in AL only leagues or as a fill in for mixed leagues.  He should see at least 350 AB’s in Boston.  We all know his health issues.

Smoltz is expected to sign with the Red Sox as well.  This is a very intriguing fantasy situation.  He is said to be heading into this season healthy, but he is 41 years old (42 in May) and is coming off a season in which he only made 5 starts.  This should be a situation in which Boston rotates their 5th starter.  By adding Smoltz they have the luxury of limiting both him and Brad Penny while working in Buchholz as well.  While this is a great situation in real baseball, it’s not good for your fantasy team.  Even at Smotlz’s age he can still produce when healthy, but that’s a gamble in itself.  If you want to take a late flyer on him go ahead, but don’t expect anything close to 25+ starts or 180 IP.  In Head to Head leagues you should just pass all together. 

Quick Fire: Trevor Hoffman

There has been a long back and forth about where Trevor Hoffman will end up in 2009.  No matter where he lands, Hoffman is not a top 20 closer. In 2008 Hoffman’s HR/FB was his highest since 2003.  Even if the Brewers rank amongst the top in SVO over the last three years, we’re talking about  a 41 year old whose fastball is only 4-6 mph faster than his changeup.  Look, I was there the night Trevor Hoffman broke the all time record for most appearances by a pitcher for one team.  I’ve felt the rush of “Hell’s Bells” when he emerged from the pen with a one run lead.  But there is a bottom line when it comes to fantasy baseball and that is performance.  I hate to say that I will not be drafting Hoffman ever again.  He is one of the greatest closers of our time.  But his time, sadly, has passed.

FB365 Mailbag 1/7/09…again

Today was a “travel day” for me.  So here’s another mailbag question.  Tomorrow, “The Decline of Garrett Atkins.”

This one comes from emailer Justin…

My question is which 8 would you keep?  12 team league.  We also have MI and CI spots.  4 OF spots. We can keep 8 and there is no cap or $ value all the remaining players just go back into the pool and we start the draft based on the previous years standings.  6×6 league with holds and hits as the other categories. 
Jermaine Dye
Corey Hart
Ian Kinsler
Carlos Lee
Ryan Ludwick
Cameron Maybin
Mark Reynolds
Jimmy Rollins
BJ Upton
Shane Victorino
Cole Hamels
John Lackey
Aaron Harang
Max Scherzer
Most are obvious choices but as you can see it gets dicey with that 8th pick
Thanks for your help and keep up the great work!

Right off the bat I’m sure you’re looking to keep Rollins, Kinsler, Carlos Lee and B.J. Upton which are all 1st/2nd round picks.  I’m also very high on Victorino for 09 so he’s in.  Corey Hart had a dismal end to last season, but he’s a lock for 20/20 with upside to hit .290+, he’s in.  Now, I realize that this locks in your OF, but these are the best offensive players you have.  With that base you’ll get about 155 SB’s and 120 HR’s with room for more (Plus you’ll be drafting a 1B,3B and MI for more power). Jermaine Dye is a nice player, but I’d rather have the power/speed combos of Upton, Victorino and Hart. I’ll pass on Ludwick.  You’ve already got a great OF and there is plenty reason to believe that while he could hit 30+ HR’s, the AVG will come down.  Maybin is a year or two away from reaching his potential and Mark Reynolds will be a detriment in AVG plus the MI pool is deep enough where you should be able to grab a couple good ones during the draft (Perhaps Reynolds again).  With the final two spots I’d go ahead and keep Hamels (can be a top 5 pitcher in 2009) and Lackey to give yourself two dependable starters.  With those two starters you shouldn’t have to draft another pitcher for a while and you can load up on more bats. 
Carlos Lee
B.J. Upton