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Which Player's Production Is Not Just A Career Year?

Minnesota Twins' catcher Joe Mauer hit his 11th HR of the season the other night as a pinch-hitter. There is little explanation available for Mauer's transformation into the Albert Pujols of catchers. A lot of ink has been spilt over the past two weeks trying to determine why the transformation has occurred.

Regardless of why or how, the development is one of the most pleasant of the 2009 fantasy baseball season.

There will always be players who have career seasons. The questions to be answered for the fantasy baseball participant is which performances represent permanent increases in production and which remain in the Career Season category.

An inexhaustive list yet to be sorted includes the following (along with the most noteworthy production):

  1. OF Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (29-29 SBs)
  2. SS Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays (7 HRs, 14 SBs .373 AVG)
  3. 3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (49 RBIs, .330 AVG)
  4. OF Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (10 HRs, .359 AVG)
  5. 2B Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (11 HRs, .348 AVG)
  6. 3B Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (11 HR, .346 AVG)
  7. OF Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies (17 HRs)
  8. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres (17 HRs)
  9. SP Zach Greinke (7 Wins, 73 Ks in 66 IP)
  10. SP Justin Verlander (85 Ks in 63.1 IP)

Amongst those I believe could represent a permanent change in production are Longoria, Zimmerman, Adam Jones, and Zach Greinke. While the last three will show a leap from the mid-teens rounds to the top 5-8 rounds in the 2010 drafts, Longoria will struggle in improve much because he was already a 2nd pick. Will some take him right after Alex Rodriguez and David Wright or will the temptations of grabbing a top player at SS, 2B, OF, even catcher if Mauer's power is for real, be too great to get Longoria into the 1st round?

Those I am not convinced have made a permanent change are the rest. Amongst those, Justin Verlander is the one whose stats may get him into the other group, but I am leery of the rebound. Carl Crawford's stolen bases are impressive, too, but I'm not buying without 15 HRs. Adrian Gonzalez isn't going any higher than the 3rd round even if he were traded to a hitter's park.

Two months may be too soon the make decisions either way, but fantasy baseball doesn't allow the benefit of time. Decisions have to be made now on which players are to be sold high or bought high in anticipation of the rest of the season and seasons to come.