Category Archives: Aubrey Huff

>Second Half Players: Aubrey Huff

>July is already halfway over is it’s time to start looking for those notorious “second-half-studs.” Scanning over the last two seasons, using OPS as my guide, I found two constants that could be had a potentially moderate price.

Aubrey Huff should be owned in all fantasy leagues. He’s not a guy who you’re going to just ‘pick up’ from waivers without giving up anything substantive. To date, Huff started out like a bat from hell in 2009. Recently, though, his numbers have been dipping. His once-.300 batting average has dipped to Elvis Andrus territory at .250, and he’s seemingly been stuck on 11 home runs forever!
Rewind to 2007, Huff slugged 8 home runs in August. On top of that, he scored 19 runs and drove in 19 RBIs of his own. His OPS was an astronomical 1.135, placing him in vintage David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and David Wright territory.
In hopes that 2007 was not an aberration, we look to August 2008, when, you guess it, Huff clubbed 8 home runs (…again…), scored 20 runs, and drove in 26 RBIs. His 1.056 OPS, again, placed him fractions of a point away from the 2008 AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia (1.060).
Officially, I suggest you chase Aubrey Huff. He shouldn’t take much to land in a deal because he’s stumbled into the All-Star Break. The one caveat surrounding Huff is that he’s in a contract year and is highly likely to be traded within the next several weeks. If he goes to a team like the Mets or the Mariners, he’ll be hard pressed to club 8 home runs in such a huge home ballpark. That all said… I still think he’s a worthwhile investment for your team down the stretch… especially in August.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aubrey Huff, Fantasy Baseball, OPS, second half players

>Fantasy Baseball Prep: Outfield

>Far and away, the outfield portion of this series is the most mind-boggling.  Each day, before sitting down to write my latest post, I take a look at the spread sheet to see what names pop out at me as “strange.”  Not “strange” in the fact that it’s unfathomable that a players be ranked so highly, but “strange” that I didn’t think of this without the guidance of stats and numbers.

Today, however, “strange” refers to the former.
For this reason, I’m going to analyze this position the same way I did for catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop before pointing out a few outliers that found their way(s) “in.”
Starting with our first statistical category, points-per-opportunity (see introductory chapter for a rundown of statistics and formulas), Ryan Braun (2.92 pts/opp.) reigns supreme.  In fact, Braun tops every statistical category I’ve created for the purposes of this blog series.  It’s safe to say that Bill James has crowned Braun as the “cream of the crop” in 2009.
Behind Braun, filling out the top-three, are Alfonso Soriano (2.77) and Marcus Thames (2.76).  I can’t say I’m too surprised with the top-three.  Soriano rakes when healthy… but that’s been a bit of a problem for him recently (many Cubs’ fans know about his “hopping” problem in the outfield).  Thames, on the other hand, is projected to hit only 22 more singles than home runs in limited at-bats.  He’s not quite up to the rate of a Glennallen Hill, but he’s probably the closest the Majors have to offer.
The bottom three of the 120 ranked outfielders for this research produce two familiar names: Brian Giles (1.99) and Ichiro (2.05).  These two players are the typical examples of fantasy bats you’d expect to find at the bottom of a pts/opp. category.  One is an aging “power” bat (yeah, remember way back when?) and the other’s a singles-hitting-base-stealer.  Don’t be too concerned about Ichiro being ranked this low.  Remember that most of his opportunity is made by stealing bases and scoring runs, two things that are risky and that he has very little control over.
The median for this category is our favorite fluctuating fellow: Aubrey Huff (2.39 pts/opp.).  Huff was a “surprise” to most fantasy owners last year as he put up his typical “Devil Ray” numbers from almost 3-years ago.  Bill James projects similar numbers for 2009: 23 HRs, 80 RBI, 70 R, and a .280 BA.  
Notable “below-average” sluggers identified are Delmon Young (2.32), Nick Swisher (2.31), and Josh Willingham (2.31).  Of these three, I think it’s important to note that this may be Delmon Young’s last chance to live up to the “next Ken Griffey Jr.” billing we were all promised back in 2005-06.  I know that I can’t be the only one who was fed up with hearing about him and Lastings “the next Willie Mays” Milledge (2.43).
When thinking of Willie… the LAST word that comes to mind is “average,” which is what Milledge (.81) represents when moving to our next category, points-per-plate-appearance.
[I hope you all enjoyed the above sentence.  In the biz, that’s what we call a beautiful transition.  I’m gonna just read it one more time before moving on…]
The top-five of our OPS translator deliver four familiar names and one not-so-familiar name.  The four players whom you’ve undoubtedly heard about before are Ryan Braun (1.05 pts/pa), Matt Holiday (.96), Josh Hamilton (.95), Carlos Beltran (.949), and Manny Ramirez (.94).
Our out-of-nowhere member of the top-five is the EXTREMELY streaky Nelson Cruz (.967), who, along with Chris Davis, carried the Texas Rangers down the stretch of the 2008 MLB season.  Cruz is an interesting option in fantasy leagues this year.  Like fellow Quadruple-A member, Dallas McPherson, Cruz has been touted as too good for Triple-A… but not disciplined/good enough for the Majors.  
However, Rangers’ mangaer Ron Washington said that Nelson Cruz would bat clean-up for the Rangers if they added no offense in the off-season.  The Rangers’ added nothing offensively so far this season, so (barring a random signing of Manny Ramirez or something) one would expect Washington to make good on his commitment.  Cruz, 28, is in the prime of his offensive career and will be batting consistently behind Josh Hamilton in 2009.  
That’s too much to ignore.
Combine this with Bill James’ projected 28 home runs, 84 RBI, and 18 stolen bases and you have the foundation for what may FINALLY qualify as Cruz’s “break-out” season.  That all said, please don’t go ahead and draft this guy as your #1 outfielder.  You’ll be laughed at.  Seriously, laughed at.  I would rank him as a low-two, high-three… but please be sure to draft a serviceable back-up for protection if he struggles throughout April and May.  
However, if Cruz does for your fantasy team what he did for mine during the fantasy play-offs last year, you’ll be more than pleased you took the risk on this potential late-bloomer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alfonso Soriano, Aubrey Huff, Bill James, Carlos Beltran, Delmon Young, Fantasy Baseball, Josh Hamilton, Lastings Milledge, Manny Ramirez, Marcus Thames, Matt Holliday, Nelson Cruz, Ryan Braun

>Why Fadds is Such a Ryan Braun & Troy Tulowitzki Hater

>

Enough political talk for now, I have a pressing issue for discussion. Tomorrow is my first Fantasy Baseball draft of 2008 and I have a few tidbits for discussion before drafting my team. First, a bit about the league: it is a 20 (yes that’s right 20) team head-to-head points league. Only four teams make the play-offs so it is going to be ridiculously important to get off to a hot start once the season begins. Normally, I would never think of drafting a league this early, but there are other commitments throughout our staff and this was one of the few weekends in March that we could all meet. The team owners are all employees of WFUV-FM’s Sports department, so it should be competitive and intense for the entire season.

The semantics of the league is not reason for this post. There have been a few thoughts bouncing around my head during my draft prep. Looking into my projected first-round player pool, Ryan Braun bothers me. I don’t know if all the fantasy experts were smoking crack when predicting this kid as a .330-40-120 bat in Milwaukee’s line-up, but I just don’t see it. In fact, I could just as easily see a sophomore slump before that line. I mean… .330… seriously? I know he was killing it last year, but let’s give the pitchers and coaches in the NL a little more credit to figure this kid out. Don’t confuse my skepticism with statistical fact, because the Slugging % over the course of Braun’s career shows that he can keep it up (he had a hiccup in 2006, but other than that it was great). I just wouldn’t spend a first round pick on him. In my 20-team league, maybe at the end of the first I would consider it. However, it would be a definite struggle between Braun’s upside and the robotic consistency of guys like Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, and Lance Berkman (again, 20-teams… none of those three should be taken in the first round of any 10- or 12-team draft).

A friend asked me if I would consider Troy Tulowitzki as my starting shortstop in this league. My answer, in short, was no. Currently, I have him ranked as a late second round pick in this league. That’s absurd. Unless I get A-Rod with the first overall pick and have to wait until 40th overall, I can’t see taking Tulowitzki in the second round. Other options that I think are more attractive than Tulo in a points league come in later rounds. Carlos Guillen (ranked mid-third rounder) and Rafael Furcal (mid-fifth rounder) provide the opportunity for average and speed respectively. Though Tulowitzki has the potential for 25 home runs in 2008, Guillen is an automatic for average and runs scored in that beastie Detroit line-up. Furcal, allegedly healthy for ’08, will have Joe Torre liberally giving him the green light on the base paths and a fat contract to play for. I know, it’s easy for me to offer these options without saying who I would take in the second round. Personally, if it were a late pick, I would look to take a stud-starting pitcher. Erik Bedard and C.C. Sabathia are ranked as early-third round picks, but you wouldn’t be crazy to jump at either of them in the late second.

Final thought for this installment: Has anyone else noticed how many 3B options there are in ’08? It’s crazy. Obviously, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, and Miggy Cabrera are at the head of the class, but as far as sleepers go, most of the guys who I’ve been eyeing are third basemen. Before idiotically getting into a car accident last week, Hank Blalock was on my radar. I never bought into his hype in previous years, but I feel like this year he’s valued at just the right position: a late round sleeper / utility player.

If the White Sox would trade Joe Crede already, Josh Fields would be a good option at the hot corner also. As it stands now, both are White Sox, and Fields, as a result, is undervalued. Everyone talk about Ryan Braun, but this kid hit 23 dingers in 200 less at-bats. Also, let’s not forget the deceptive speed on the base paths he showed in the minors. Throw in dual eligibility at 3B and OF and you have yourself a nice little option in the late rounds of any draft. If your draft is coming up soon snatch this guy up and wait for the ChiSox to ship Crede out to the Giants or something…

I was going to initially list Eric Chavez in this list, but… no.

I don’t really dig on the whole Mark Reynolds hype, but many other writers do. If, you’re one of them, please try and convince me, because 130 punch-outs in someone’s rookie season just screams Jose Hernandez, and I don’t want any of that.

Edwin Encarnacion, again, rears his ugly head. Don’t we do through this every year with him? Is 2008 finally going to be the year he busts it out in Cincinnati? I don’t think so, but that’s only because he’s toyed with my emotions one too many tomes before.

Now, here’s one that you may think I am crazy for: Aubrey Huff. Before you “x” out this window let me try and talk my way out of this corner. This will be Huff’s second season in Baltimore and there’s no more Miguel Tejada. That is a good thing. Tejada, according to some, was not exactly the best teammate and left a clean-up spot vacant for Huff to step right in to. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis will be on the base paths frequently for Huff, who will see more pitches coming from the stretch. Also, what’s so bad about spending you last pick on ol’ Aubrey Huff? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I’ll come back some analysis of the draft once it’s complete. Anyone who wants results from this league’s draft, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do about sending them to you.

2 Comments

Filed under Aubrey Huff, Fantasy Baseball, Hank Blalock, Josh Fields, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, WFUV