Vanglorious’ Fantasy Corner: Volume 2April 1, 2010
Season after season, fantasy draft after fantasy draft there are always a plethora of bounce-back players. You know them. Players that were once either excellent or considered destined for greatness until they ran into statistical tragedy . Now these players can be gotten at bargain-basement prices at auction, or in the bottom half of fantasy drafts. Below is a series of installments intended to explore such candidates.
Francisco Liriano – SP – Minnesota Twins: Whether it be as a starter or a closer (most likely starter), I think Liriano is going to have a nice year in 2010. (And this has nothing to do with the fact that I drafted him in 2 out of 3 of my fantasy leagues this year.)
Last year (2009) was Liriano’s first full season in the Majors since coming back from Tommy John surgery and to say he had a rough year is an understatement. Francisco posted an overgrown 5.80 ERA and didn’t help the Twinkies out in any way last year.
As for this season, he has already begun his triumphant return in 2010. He flat-out dominated the Dominican Winter League a few months ago and is having a nice spring training as well. All signs point to a bounce back year in 2010 for Francisco Liriano.
Roy Oswalt – SP – Houston Astros: Remember when snagging Roy Oswalt in your draft meant the starting pitching for your team was sufficiently taken care of? Those days are likely over. No more sub-3.00 ERA’s and loads of whiffs. Notching only 8 wins in 2009, Oswalt has becomes a sort of “one category” pitcher.
With that said, Roy O is largely off the radar entering 2010, and critics have all but written off the former “beast” of a pitcher. I would strongly caution fantasy GM’s against following the critics in writing off Oswalt. He probably (definitely) won’t win 20 games, especially in a line-up deprived of Lance Berkman (aka Fat Elvis), but with 14+ win possibilities, Roy may just get his groove back in 2010.
Carmona’s sparkling spring continues as he is now 3-0 with a gorgeous 0.45 ERA in 20 IP over 4 appearances. Carmona was filthy in 2007 winning 19 games, but everything was downhill from there. Over the past two years he’s become a bona fide “walk machine”.
This spring has been a completely different story for Carmona. He has walked only 2 batters in 20 IP (reaching a 3 ball count only one other time).
Carmona looks poised to redeem himself after his humbling demotion to the lowest level of the minors last year, and could be on his way to another dominant campaign like 2007.
Hudson pitched in only 7 games for the Braves last season, but now that he’s fully healed from Tommy John surgery, he should be back to the “out manufacturer” he once was.
Tim Hudson has never been a pitcher who relied on strikeouts to get a batter out, so the fact that he’s now 34 isn’t a concern to me at all. Even in those lowly 7 games he pitched in last year, his ground ball percentage was 62.2 percent, which tells me he’s still got it.
Notoriously a thrower rather than a pitcher, Perez features a nasty array of pitches, over all of which he has literally zero command.
Perhaps it is sheer hope more than sensibility that leads me to add Oliver Perez to this list, but no pitcher with this much talent should suffer in statistical purgatory forever.
I’m reaching for the stars, but I’m expecting a much better Ollie in 2010, maybe even like his Pirate days in 2004 (Ok, that’s a stretch).
Grady Sizemore – OF – Cleveland Indians: From Opening Day 2005 through the final game of 2008, Sizemore established himself as one of the games pre-eminent players. He made 3 All-Star teams, won 2 Gold Gloves, and a Silver Slugger as well as earning a reputation as a wall-defying human projectile.
But last year was a completely different story, as Sizemore really struggled to stay healthy. He hit just .248 in 106 games before two injuries forced him to shut it down in September.
Sizemore underwent surgery for an inflamed left elbow, and the anesthesia had barely worn off when he went back for a second procedure to have a lower abdominal injury repaired.
At just 27 years old, as well as fully healed and repaired, Sizemore shouldn’t have any trouble returning to the Grady he was before 2009, and maximum production should be expected and will be required in order for the Indians to have any post-season hopes.
Jay Bruce – OF – Cincinnati Reds: Following a fantastic rookie effort where he belted 21 homers in just 410 AB’s , a lot was expected of Jay Bruce entering the 2009 season. On the other hand, Bruce’s sophomore effort was characterized by a large statistical step backward.
A player with Jay Bruce’s pop and talent should be penciled into the “not if but when” category. Will 2010 be Bruce Almighty’s time to join the ranks of fantasy elite outfielders?
Time will tell, but my money is on him taking a huge step forward in 2010.
Josh Hamilton – OF – Texas Rangers: In 2008 Josh Hamilton slugged his way into people’s hearts with his brilliant Home Run Derby performance in the “Old Ballpark in the Bronx”. During that same season Hamilton played in 156 games, batted .304 with 35 doubles, 32 home runs, 132 RBI, and a .901 OPS.
2009 was the other side of the spectrum. Hamilton’s production completely fell off from expectations. He played in only 89 games and went to the DL three separate times. He finished the year with a .268 BA, 19 doubles, 10 home runs, 54 RBI, and a .741 OPS.
So the big question is which Josh Hamilton will show up in 2010?
If I had to guess, I would say he’ll be closer to the 2008 version of himself, but not as good. I know he’s extremely fragile (mostly due to heavy drug use), but with youngster Julio Borbon taking over in center field, Hamilton will take over in left, where there will be less of a daily pounding on his body.
He’ll always have one of the sweetest swings from the left side of the plate, if he can take better advantage of his speed, Hamilton could be back to the fantasy commodity we all remember. (I’ll be rootin’ for him)
Geovanny Soto – C – Chicago Cubs: Among the more disappointing sophomore seasons in the last 10 years, Soto succeeded only in inspiring regret and hate in the drones of fantasy GM’s who snagged him at a premium entering the 2009 season (like me for example, he’s dead to me)
Now, on the cusp of the 2010 season (after losing 20+ pounds) we find Soto a virtual steal among fantasy catchers. The power definitely didn’t vanish and the starting job is still his to lose, so expect a bounce back campaign for Geo in 2010. (But he’s still dead to me)