The Pirates are the last team to cover in the NL Central in the Top 5 series, then I will address the NL West. The Pirates are becoming a younger and younger team over the last few years after trading away guys like Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez.
Let's take a look at the Pirates Top 5 for 2010:
1. Andrew McCutchen-McCutchen had a wonderful first season in the majors in 2009 going 12-54-74-22-.286-.365-.471 in 433 at bats. He has a nice power/speed combo where he could provide a 20-20 season in the near future. I am not sure that happens in 2010 though. Bill James project him to go 13-61-90-31-.281-.353-.430. I think that is about right, and he could easily steal 35+.
2. Garrett Jones-times are tough in Pittsburgh when Jones is your #2 fantasy player for 2010. I say that because we don't know if 2009 was a fluke or a breakout. Jones also had a great 2009 season for fantasy owners going 21-44-45-10-.293-.372-.567 in 314 at bats. Could we see a repeat of 2009? Sure. James project 25-88-78-14-.271-.330-.479 in 2010. Jones has hit for power in the minors, but has stolen more than 10 bases in a season just once before last season. He had a HR/FB% OF 21.2% in 2009, which I don't think is sustainable.
3. Pedro Alvarez-I was going to put him as a sleeper, but I think he will be up in June and still be in the Pirates Top 5 by season's end. Especially when picking from the likes of Lastings Milledge, Andy Laroche and Ryan Doumit. Alvarez has alot of power and he displayed it at two levels in 2009 going 27-95-.288-.378-.535. He also threw in 32 doubles. Pirates fans will be calling for him come May 1st I think.
4. Lastings Milledge-I recently wrote about Milledge here, projecting him as a sleeper since he appears ready for a breakout season. He is not a sleeper in the Top 5 as he should be one of the better Pirates in fantasy terms considering who he is up against. I think he has the potential to be the second best Pirate in 2010 for fantasy purposes. Bill James projects him to go 11-60-22-.284-.340-.413 in 2010. I think he could be closer to his 2008 stats in Washington where he went 14-61-24-.268.
5. Octavio Dotel-the Buccos recently signed him to be their closer. Dotel hasn't closed since 2007 where he had 11 saves, and prior to that was 2004 where he had 36 saves for the Astros and Braves. Dotel won't help you in the WHIP category as he walks alot of guys, but he will strikeout alot of guys as well as evidenced by his 10.98 career K/9.
Sleeper Alert: Andy Laroche-Alvarez will probably push Laroche to 2B at some point in early 2010, but Laroche has to break out soon, right? If he can stick at 2B, I can see him hitting 15-20 HRs in 2010. Laroche went 12-64-64-.258-.330-.401 in 2009, and James projects him to go 15-69-71-.254-.338-.402 in 2010. He was a streaky hitter in the minors, and I am curious if his September line of 5-18-.313-.359-.552 is a sign of things to come in 2010.