Monday, March 10, 2008

Who Do You Rank Higher?

Here at Fantasy Baseball 101 Inter-Galactic Headquarters we are in the midst of drafting our pre-season rankings. Even for experienced roto junkies like ourselves, there are some rankings difficult to formulate. Throughout the spring we will tackle some tough examples. Here's one for our first segment.

Who is the better shortstop for 2008: Rafael Furcal, J.J. Hardy, or Khalil Greene?

It is a tougher call than one may initially expect. Each of these players have their own pros/cons that a fantasy baseball owner must take into consideration when constructing their own rankings. Let's start with an analysis of J.J. Hardy.

Hardy hit .277 with 26 homers and 80 rbi's last year. His hr/Ab have improved in each of the past three seasons, and at 25 years of age, should only get better. Surprisingly, Hardy had the best batting average of the three players, and he should continue to have protection in the loaded Milwaukee Brewers lineup. But there are several cons to be think about. For instance, he hit only eight homers in the second half. Moreover, Hardy has little history of power in previous years so it is possible that '07 was a fluke.

Khalil Greene was remarkably consistent before his 2007 statistical explosion. After hitting exactly 15 homers for three years in a row, Greene hit 27 homers last year, to go along with 97 rbi's and a .254 batting average. Unlike Hardy, Greene was consistent throughout the season, smacking 13 long balls in the first half and 14 in the second. At 28 years of age, Greene is in the prime of his career. But Greene has an abysmal OBP% and will hurt your team's batting average. It is also possible that Greene can revert to a 15 home run hitter in 2008.

Furcal, probably the best known of the three, had an off-year in 2007 due, in part, to injury. In 581 at-bats, Furcal hit .270 with 8 homers, 47 rbi's and 25 steals. But to fully appreciate Furcal's potential, one must look at his 2006 season when he hit .300-15-63-113-37. This raises the question of whether his 2007 season was due to injury, erosion of skill, or some combination thereof. Complicating matters further, Furcal has been bothered by hamstring ailments in the early part of Spring Training. His stolen bases may also influenced on whether he bats leadoff for the Dodgers instead of Juan Pierre.

So, how should these three middle-men be ranked? It depends on the strengths and weaknesses of your roster. If you are building a team from scratch, Furcal is probably your best bet because, when healthy, he can contribute solid stats in all five traditional categories. If, however, your team needs help in the power categories and can afford to take a hit in batting average, Greene is your man. Conversely, if you have several Andruw Jones types, and do not want to jeopardize your batting average further, Furcal or Hardy are the logical choices. Finally, if you are in a keeper league and are looking for a young, improving shortstop, Hardy is the guy to get.

What are your thoughts?

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