Here is the first in a series of 10 Questions articles that fantasy owners should consider before draft day. The questions will cover anything fantasy, such as draft day strategy, bounceback candidates, sleepers, MLB team position battles, and who can repeat 2010 successes. These are not necessarily in order of importance, just the order I am writing them.
1. Will we see power scarcity again in 2011?
I wrote an article a few months ago here discussing how power is becoming more and more scarce in fantasy baseball. The article states that the number of hitters with 30+ HRs dropped from 30 to 18 from 2009 to 2010. Does that trend continue in 2011? I don't think so, as there were several hitters who hit 28-29 HRs, such as David Wright, Matt Holliday and Nick Swisher, and others who could approach 30 HRs in 2011 such as Mike Stanton.
2. Who will close games in Atlanta in 2011?
If I had it my way, Craig Kimbrel would close for the Braves, as I own him in the UBA NL-only keeper league. Kimbrel was used late in games in September and in the playoffs, and it appeared that Bobby Cox was grooming him to replace the retired Billy Wagner. If he is the closer in Atlanta, he has the chance to strikeout over 100 batters, giving him plenty of value in 5 x 5 leagues that use strikeouts as a pitching category. Kimbrel will battle with lefty Jonny Venters for the closer role in spring training.
3. Who gets the most at bats at third base for the Rockies?
I have said this before, but it appears that the Rockies will platoon ian Stewart in 2011, after acquiring Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez this offseason. Both can play second or third base, and am curious if manager Jim Tracy will go to a strict platoon once Stewart goes into his first slump.
4. Can Jose Bautista hit 50+ HRs again in 2011?
I don't see that happening, but can see him hitting 30+ HRs this year. He might hit a few more, but can he approach 40 HRs again?
More after the jump:
5. Is 2011 the year Albert Pujols is displaced as the first pick in the majority of fantasy drafts?
Grey over at Razzball seems to think so as he has ranked Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera as the top guy in his Top 10, which he published on Monday here. It would not surprise me at all to see Pujols have a "down" year. Well, a down year for him is a career year for almost every hitter in baseball.
6. Will Adrian Gonzalez have a monster season now that he is out of San Diego?
Well, AGonz is now hitting in one of the best lineups in baseball and playing half of his games in Fenway Park. In his career, he has hit .303-.376-.568 with 223 extra base hits on the road, and just .263-.360-.440 with 139 extra base hits at home. But looking at the ballpark factors over at ESPN, we see the Fenway Park suppressed HRs by 13% in 2010, but increased runs scored by 8%, so it is quite possible we see a slight drop in HR output from Gonzalez, but an increase in RBIs.
7. What positions are the thinnest come draft day 2011?
The thinnest positions on draft day are shortstop, second base and closers. After Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes, there are only a few decent hitting shortstops left-Stephen Drew ad Alexei Ramirez. The same goes for second base where you have Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips and Kelly Johnson, but after the top 6, there isn't much left. And there are only a few closers that I am comfortable drafting, namely Heath Bell, Brian Wilson, Joakim Soria and Mariano Rivera.
8. Name 3 starting pitcher sleepers for 2011.
OK, I will start with Reds starter Edinson Volquez who has a career K rate that approaches 9.00 and a GB rate around 46%. Next is Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin who could vault into the Top 25-30 starters this year. Finally, I really like Braves starter Mike Minor who had a K/9 of 9.38 and an extremely low LOB% of 63% in his 8 appearances in 2010.
I will go with Mark Reynolds, who is moving to an extreme HR park in Baltimore. According to ESPN's ballpark factors, Camden Yards increased HRs by 26% in 2010, and 19% in 2009, while Chase Field increased HRs by just 4% in 2010 and 2009. Plus, ARod's hip injury seemed to affect him last year.
10. Name 3 hitting sleepers for 2011.
I am not sure he is a sleeper, but I think Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill will hit for a better BA this year to go along with close to 30 HRs. Another is White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin who hits for power and has a solid eye at the plate, so I see his BA improving this year. Finally, I own this guy in the UBA league, but Aramis Ramirez hit just .241 last year, but did hit 25 HRs and drove in 85 while dealing with a thumb injury. Plus, he is in his walk year.