Never one to turn away from my loyal followers, I was posed a question by Eric in the Comments section of the site: could I review some of the 2011 players who are heading into their second season and give my thoughts on their 2011 outlooks? You got it Eric. Here goes.
Brennan Boesch (current ADP from MockDraftCentral – outside the top-400): Check out his 2010 splits from the first half (.342-12-49 with a .990 OPS) and the second (.163-2-18 with a .458 OPS). He’s obviously neither hitter, and in fact his season long numbers are about what you would expect given his skill set (.256-14-67 with a .736 OPS). A repeat of last seasons numbers is certainly possibly, perhaps with some incremental growth, but that will only occur if he sees as much playing time as he did last season and at this point that is far from certain to occur. And don’t forget that he hit a mere .233 against righties while scorching lefties to the tun of a .337 mark with a .951 OPS. Those numbers make it seem like a platoon situation is possible, especially if he struggles early.
Starlin Castro (164): He had a tremendous season for the 20 year old as he hit .300 in 2010 for the Cubbies. However, he also hit only three homers and stole just 10 bases, so there wasn’t huge fantasy value produced by the Cubs’ shortstop. His value at this point of his development is basically what he can offer in the batting average and steals categories. Castro is fast, but expecting the leap to even 20 steals this season might be a bit much. As for the average, it should remain stable given his speed and the fact that he keeps the ball on the ground (1.76 GB/FB rate). At the same time, how much would you pay for a .300-5-50-75-15 season which would seem to be his upside in 2011. I’d rather take Jason Bartlett at pick #367 overall, some 200 selections later.
Ike Davis(268): Everyone in New York thinks Davis will become the next Mark Teixeira. Me? Not so much. Davis still has that hand hitch in his swing to worry about, he struck out in more than a quarter of his at-bats in ’10, and he plays in a park that isn’t exactly a homer haven. Davis also had a poor line drive rate of under 17 percent (the big league average is about 19-20 percent) which doesn’t at all support his .321 BABIP from last season. Add that up and I think he has just as good a chance to hit .250 as he does to hit .280. Given that fact, and his rather middling power for a first baseman, I really don’t see the urge to roster him in mixed leagues unless you are talking about him as a corner infield option.
Wade Davis (395): Drafters aren’t giving Davis much love. Maybe it’s because of all the young arms in Tampa that cause Davis to get lost in the shuffle? A sturdy 6’5″ and about 225 lbs., Davis seems physically capable of handling whatever innings the Rays want to throw his way. He was solid last season with a big league average walk rate (3.32 per nine), his ERA was just a hair over four at 4.07 (a pretty good mark in the AL East), while his WHIP of 1.35 was passable. He will need to curtail his homer rate a bit, it was 1.29 per nine last season, but that could easily be accomplished if he split the difference between his fly ball rate in six starts in 2009 (36 percent) and 29 last year (44 percent). The biggest concern here is where did the Ks go? After posting an 8.74 K/9 mark in the minors he was at 8.92 per nine in ’09 with the Rays. If he can add a strikeout to his mark of just 6.05 from last year, that will go a long way to making him relevant in mixed leagues.
David Freese (396): Freese has hit .299 in 271 big league at-bats after hitting .308 in the minors. Clearly, the average is legit. However, he has only five homers in the bigs and has hit a rather pedestrian 17 homers over his last 500 at-bats including his minor league work. The biggest concern with him though is his health. Freese had both of his ankles operated on, and though everyone is hoping he will be ready for opening day, there is certainly some concern (the team has already announced that Allen Craig will see more time at third in spring in case he is needed in season). At this point I’m only taking Freese as an NL-only option at the corner infield spot, but there is some upside if he’s healthy.
Austin Jackson (319): Jackson led baseball with a .396 BABIP in 2010. There is no chance he repeats that number in 2011. Yes, players establish their own baseline in BABIP, and yes, fast players often surpass the major league average in BABIP (which is about .300 by the way). Still, there is no way that he will be able to push .400 again. Honestly, I think he has a hard time pushing .350. That said, his average could dip quite a bit from his .293 mark of last season. He could steal 30 bases and hit a few more homers, but that average is gonna come down. I mean for goodness sakes, the guy struck out 170 times last year and hit four homers. That’s plain awful.
Gaby Sanchez (234): A fourth round selection in 2005, Sanchez went to college meaning that he is already 27 years old which should temper somewhat the thought that he could take a major step forward in his second full season in the bigs. We all look for power at the corner infield spot, and with Sanchez it’s much more Lyle Overbay than Prince Fielder. Sanchez had a nine percent HR/F ratio, right on the big league average in 2010. The only reason he hit 19 homers was the fact that he produced a high 46 percent fly ball rate. If that number regresses even slightly in 2011, 25 homers will be a pipe dream. Draft Sanchez expecting a repeat or slight improvement from last season, but don’t draft him expecting a breakout season.