Fantasy Relevance ’09 is a breakdown of each M.L.B. team that shows the players with fantasy value from each respective team. There are four categories the players will be broken down into and they are as follows: Studs, Role Players, Keepers and Sleepers. Hopefully this will help you in your quest for Fantasy Baseball dominance.
Vladimir Guerrero- It is hard to say what will happen with Vlad this season. He is a future HOFer who has produced his entire career but had off-season knee surgery. The surgery was considered a success and if his knee does hold up, he shouldn’t have much of a problem returning to the Vlad of old. He won’t have the same protection in the lineup that he has had in the past (Mark Teixeira and Garrett Anderson left via free-agency) but then again, there is no such thing as pitching around Vlad. The guy will swing at anything he thinks he can hit and in most cases, he can hit it. Now, on the other hand his knee could become a recurring problem and we could see Vlad needing a lot more rest this season.
Chone Figgins- This guy dictates the entire offense for the Angels. When he is on, he becomes a threat to get on base in multiple ways, steal a base or two and wind up on 3rd with no outs. If Figgins can stay healthy he will be a fantasy stud once again. Last year he dealt with injuries that might have left a bad taste in his owners’ mouths but this year will be different. He will most likely return to the Figgy of old and run wild on the bases. The Halo’s offense is not what it used to be so they will be forced to manufacture more runs and Mike Scioscia is a master at that.
John Lackey- Health will be the only issue here. When he is healthy, is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. He is a team leader that knows what it takes to get the job done. He won’t have as much offensive support this year but he should do just fine and his owners should feel very comfortable with him on the mound especially since he gets to face so many other AL West teams.
Mike Napoli- Like so many other Angels, health is the key to Mike Napoli having a huge fantasy year. If Jeff Mathis can prove not to be an offensive liability, Napoli would be able to move over to DH. If he could DH full time, he could put up some ridiculous power numbers. This is a best case scenario for the Angels because they need all the power they can get. Napoli is a guy that I will be targeting in my leagues as a major breakout candidate. He showed flashes of it last year with his power but his downfall is his BA. He won’t hit for a high average but those power numbers can help offset that.
Torii Hunter- He won’t wow you anymore in any categories but he is solid all the way through. He’s capable of hitting .280 with 20+HR, 75+ RBI, 80+ Runs and 15+ SB. That is a pretty serviceable line for fantasy purposes.
Brian Fuentes- He’s no Francisco Rodriguez but he will get the job done. For the most part, he was a fantasy stud while closing for the Rockies. He’s a 3 time All-Star and he will be leaving the most hitter friendly ballpark in history. With setup men like Scott Shields and Jose Arredondo, the pressure will be off of him since both of those guys can fill in and close. He won’t be overused and that should help keep him fresh all season long. The Angels will probably be playing a lot more close games this season with their pitching staff being a strong point and their offense taking a downturn this year. Expect 35+ saves from Fuentes this year.
The Rest of the Rotation- Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders will all be serviceable pitchers in fantasy terms. Santana and Saunders had great seasons last year and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to build on them. Santana is a K machine and Saunders is a very sturdy middle of the rotation pitcher. Weaver is the wild card here. He needs to step it up a notch and prove that he is not the same pitcher as his brother. He needs to show more than a just few flashes of brilliance.
Kendry Morales- With Mark Teixeira gone, Morales will take over as the everyday first baseman and he can’t wait to show what he is capable of. He will be the Angels only left handed power threat and will get plenty of ABs to prove himself. Keep an eye on him because he could easily hit around .290 with 25+ HR.
Howie Kendrick- He can fall out of bed and get a hit, he’s that good at the plate. He can’t stay healthy though. When he does actually get on the field he is a career .306 hitter and if he is put into the 2 hole behind Figgins and in front of Vlad, he shouldn’t have a problem being one of the top choices at 2nd base for the American league. He is the type of hitter that can win a batting title if he can manage to get enough ABs to be eligible. He has spent much of the off-season trying to figure out how to stay healthy. Let’s hope he figured it out.
Juan Rivera- Now that the broken leg of ’06 is fully behind him, there is no reason to think that Rivera won’t return to his ’06 form of .310 Avg., 23 HR and 85 RBI. That was all done in only 124 games. Now, he will most likely take over as the everyday left fielder for the departed Anderson and we could see a career year out of Rivera who is in his prime at the age of 30.