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January
2nd
2006
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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AL Shortstops: Day One
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Shortstop with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.


1.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Mike Young668221.33124915114S
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R373559.348.1

Back problems cost Young only three games last season while he continued emerging as one of the most reliable players in baseball. He set career-highs in BA, OBP, SLG, doubles, homers, and walks while registering an .899 OPS against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Although an abrupt increase in his ground-fly rate suggests he will not reach thirty homers in 2006, Young appears fully capable of cresting above $40 sometime in the next few seasons despite his reduced steal output. Batting in front of Mark Teixeira insures Young will remain an absolute lock to clear $30, however pushing much above that level seems slightly optimistic considering he appears relatively near his maximum output in nearly every category.


2.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Julio Lugo616182.2956573989S
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R353220.329.4

Finally left alone at the top of the order, Lugo blossomed into one of the game's best leadoff men. Although his .362 OBP is not great, his 39/50 SB success rate adds plenty of value, elevating his place on the MLB trading block to its current lofty level. He almost certainly will head somewhere like Boston or New York in the near future, presenting an excellent opportunity for his quantitative numbers to continue increasing. Given his developing plate discipline, surging contact rate, and nonexistent platoon split, Lugo seems assured of remaining above $30, especially if moved into a better hitters' park. View Lugo as a safe player well worth owning in any league.


3.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Derek Jeter654202.309197014122S
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R313139.120.2

Everything here suggests Jeter should slump in 2006. A dramatic bump in his patience offset diminishing power, speed, and contact, which likely portend a drop under an .800 OPS. However, I expect Jeter to feel much more comfortable hitting second between Johnny Damon and ARod, and he may flourish when returned to the run-producing role where he excelled behind Chuck Knoblauch. I simply cannot recommend outbidding all fields for the Yankees captain, but bidding up to his 2005 value remains a good investment in standard roto leagues.


4.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Miguel Tejada654199.3042698589S
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R292842.748.2

Continual complaints directed at the Orioles' front office this winter may move Tejada out of town, especially if Boston realizes the tremendous benefit gained from adding his bat at shortstop. While I almost give the persistent rumors regarding his advanced age additional credence given his atrocious performance down the stretch, he did not suffer severe skill erosion. I strongly suspect Baltimore's general malaise caused the second-half meltdown in which Tejada slumped to an unacceptable .276/.322/.416 performance in 308 at-bats. He certainly could thrive if inserted behind a true #3 hitter, but the Orioles' feeble off-season again leaves Tejada as an uncomfortable lineup fulcrum. Stay near $30 if he remains in Baltimore, push several dollars higher if he is dealt to a playoff contender, and approach $40 if Tejada lands in Fenway behind David Ortiz.


5.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Jhonny Peralta504147.2922478082S
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:R    T:R181936.536.5

I anticipate some regression in Peralta's second full season in the majors, but excellent patience further fueled by developing plate discipline down the stretch provides a superb foundation for continued development. Of course, Cleveland's biggest "problem" is that Peralta, Travis Hafner, and Victor Martinez all look like #3 hitters and slotting Peralta above the two current OBP machines makes no sense at all. Hopefully someone will convince Eric Wedge to drop Peralta one or two spots lower in the order, allowing him to develop his power without the pressure of driving the offense. Everything here at least indicates an upside for him in the neighborhood of Miguel Tejada, so if he continues hitting third, Peralta will begin receiving the annual MVP consideration denied him this year. Feel free to jump to $19 and then remain in any bidding into the mid-$20s in keeper leagues.


6.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Edgar Renteria623172.2768709100S
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R16176.913.9

Renteria's skills scarcely changed from those he displayed in 2004. While he upped both his walk and strikeout rates, he remained ineffective against right-handed pitchers and earned his ticket out of Boston with inconsistent defense. Heading to Atlanta for Andy Marte, Renteria gives the Braves a capable replacement for Furcal, but I consider Renteria miscast as a #2 hitter, a seemingly perfect role for Jeff Francoeur. Renteria should settle into a lower lineup slot over the next two years, but regardless of where he hits, I absolutely expect a rebound for the ten-year veteran as he partially justifies an objectively foolish decision to deal one of baseball's best prospects for someone with a .744 career OPS.


7.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Orlando Cabrera540139.2578572170S
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R1515-2.10.2

One of the worst contracts in recent memory netted the Angels no benefit anywhere outside of the basepaths. Last year, Los Angeles non-tendered fan favorite David Eckstein, who performed much better than Cabrera at a fraction of the cost. Anaheim then witnessed a couple of shortstop prospects approach the majors with Brandon Wood emerging as perhaps baseball's best power prospect. Elbow problems cost Cabrera a couple weeks of action at the beginning of summer, but he maintained respectable overall skills and should push toward his hard OPS ceiling of approximately .800. Consider $25 the absolute maximum value for Cabrera, and although I expect him to best $20 as he settles into Los Angeles, I would stop bidding at $19 flat in standard leagues.


8.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Carlos Guillen334107.320523248S
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:S    T:R13121513.4

Playing in only 332 games over the past three seasons suggests that the fragile Guillen easily could miss time in 2006 as well. Guillen tore his right ACL in September of 2004, underwent nearly immediate surgery, and somewhat surprisingly opened the 2005 season in the majors. He experienced general soreness in his right knee throughout the first half before hitting the DL thanks to the supplementary pressure of a pulled hamstring in early June. While he returned after two weeks, he suffered additional minor injuries every couple of weeks, returning to the DL in mid-August due to his knees. The good news is that he returned for the last week of the season and should enter spring training at full health. I expect a rebound toward his 2004 stats albeit without more than a few steals. Consider any price in the teens a relative bargain, especially in deeper leagues where you can stash an injury replacement on reserve.


9.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Angel Berroa608164.2701155768S
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R1313-7.1-4.6

Berroa's seemingly solid batting average again obscured an awful season, though he at least avoided another demotion to the Texas League. Only his .82 contact rate shines in an otherwise awful skill set lowlighted by a .03 walk rate. Kansas City awarding Berroa over 175 plate appearances as their leadoff hitter underscores the disastrous road of the franchise, though this winter's roster additions should shove Berroa to the lower half of the order. The 28-year-old may push back toward $20 if he focuses on developing his power, however given his troubling skill set, Berroa still is not someone worth targeting in any league.


10.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Russ Adams481123.2568631168S
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:R101133

Serving as Toronto's primary leadoff hitter in the second half, Adams failed to impress at the top of the order. He merely managed a .329 OBP versus right-handers in 2005. However, given his strong plate discipline, patience, and speed skills, Adams should develop into a very productive top of the order option. Toronto's new offense should place Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and Troy Glaus in some combination behind Adams, positioning him to gain plenty of value in 5x5 leagues. You may be able to steal him somewhere in single digits, a tremendous bargain given the BA upside suggested by his skill set.


Shortstop Week continues tomorrow.


Today's Fantasy Rx: Few players here look like obviously poor choices as long as their 2006 salaries remain somewhere near their 2005 value. Consider Adams the safest target of this bunch, but Tejada, Peralta, Renteria, Cabrera, and Berroa all could post decent profits for you in many leagues. Serious AL contenders should allocate no less than fifteen dollars and perhaps as much as thirty bucks to secure a solid shortstop virtually guaranteed to provide necessary stats in your middle infield.


Click here to read the previous article.

Please e-mail your comments to tim@rotohelp.com.
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