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Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Ryan Braun, Yu Darvish, Mike Stanton and Others

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I hosted a fantasy baseball chat on Monday night, and had a great time. In the chat, I was asked who Mike Stanton would be most like in his prime. My first thought was Adam Dunn, but Dunn has never hit 50 HRs, and I think Stanton could hit 50 HRs in his prime, so the first name that came to me was Mickey Mantle.

That response was followed with a comment from dudex3 in the chat saying the comp was "insane". I got a similar text from a friend, so I looked up Mickey Mantle's stats over at Baseball-Reference, and here is what he did in his first three years in the big leagues:

Year Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
1951 19 96 341 61 91 11 5 13 65 8 43 74 .267 .349 .443 .792 151
1952 20 142 549 94 171 37 7 23 87 4 75 111 .311 .394 .530 .924 291
1953 21 127 461 105 136 24 3 21 92 8 79 90 .295 .398 .497 .895 229
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/13/2011.

Let's take a look at Stanton's first two seasons:

Year Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 20 100 359 45 93 21 1 22 59 5 34 123 .259 .326 .507 .833 182
2011 21 150 516 79 135 30 5 34 87 5 70 166 .262 .356 .537 .893 277
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/13/2011.
Granted, I am not stupid enough to say Stanton will be a Hall of Famer like Mantle is, but he has hit 56 home runs by the age of 21, while Mantle had hit 57 homers by the same age. I used the Mantle comp due to the potential to hit 50 home runs, and to be honest, he was the first name that popped into my brain. I guess I could have said Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa.

More fantasy baseball thoughts after the jump:
As you well know by now, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun tested positive for a banned substance/PED in October during the playoffs. He immediately denied that he took a banned substance and asked for a second test, which came back normal. I have read plenty of articles on both sides of this story, but I think he will have a hard time proving he did not take a banned substance. If he is suspended for 50 games, he will obviously drop in mixed league drafts to the second or third round, but I don't see him dropping much in NL-Only leagues. Why? Because, he could put up a 20-20 season once he returns with a .300+ batting average. Is that first round caliber stats? It's pretty close.

The deadline to submit bids on Japanese ace Yu Darvish is today at 5pm EST. I think all these teams that were quoted as being not interested are not telling the truth. I see the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, and Blue Jays getting involved, and maybe even the Reds. The Reds invested $30 million on Aroldis Chapman a few years ago, and they need an ace, or ace-like starter in the worst way. Plus, their window for winning is open right now, so why not invest in a young starter who could be your ace for the next 5 years? It would not surprise me to see the Reds winning the bidding on Darvish.

With that said, another team I expect to be in hard on Darvish is the Rangers. They were so close to winning last year, and just lost C.J. Wilson to their rivals, the Angels. They need an ace to head their rotation, so I would not be surprised to see them win the bidding on Darvish, especially since they recently inked a huge television deal.

Aramis Ramirez signed with the Brewers on Monday, and I wonder if they will play him at third base or at first base. I think he could see regular time at first base, assuming they go with Taylor Green to play third. As it stands now, it appear ARam will play third, with former prospect Mat Gamel playing first base, but I wonder if he is just a AAAA player at this point. Even still, I think Ramirez will have another solid year at the plate, assuming good health, as Miller Park proved to be a better home run park than Wrigley Field in 2011. Per ESPN's Park Factors, Miller Park ranked 6th in the NL with a 1.062 HR factor, while Wrigley suppressed homers by about 2% last year, as they wrung up HR park factor of .987. As a result, I could see Ramirez approach 30 homers in 2012.

It appears the Mets have some very serious financial problems but also we heard this from John Harper at the New York Daily News today:
Finally, there was Alderson at the Mets’ annual Christmas party on Tuesday, admitting that Johan Santana may not be ready to open the season in April as he continues to rehab from his 2010 shoulder capsule surgery.

On top of losing Jose Reyes to free agency and now this terrible news on Santana, one has to wonder if the Mets financial issues will force a sale of the team and possibly a fire sale. They are already looking to deal starter Jonathan Niese, which to me does not make sense in the wake of this news on Santana. Could David Wright be next?