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21010 DC Preview: Up the Middle Part 2

Michael Leone

The Must Haves
Gordon Beckham (CHW) 710 – Beckham is just too valuable to pass up at that price, unless you think he’ll fall victim to the sophomore slump. At Fantistics, we do not, and it is more than just a hunch feeling. One of the reasons why is Beckham’s solid plate discipline at a young age. In his first go around at the major league level, in just his second professional season, he posted above average numbers in EYE (.63) and XBH% (11.4). At just 23 YO, Beckham will only continue to get better. And at 710 there’s still room for some drop off in our projected numbers; don’t over think this one.

The Sexy Pick I Like
Rickie Weeks (MLW) 630 – In normal fantasy leagues, Weeks’ upside is extremely limited because he is such an injury risk. However, in the Diamond Challenge format that risk isn’t as much of a factor thanks to the taxi squad, free agent moves and player purchases. Yes, upside is king in the Diamond Challenge. Too many players like Weeks, and you are sure to burn too many buys early. However, I plan to go cheap at 2B most weeks, and there aren’t any guys in Weeks’ price range that have a ceiling as high as he does. If he could ever stay healthy, and yes that’s a big if, he would be a must have, and his per game numbers are excellent. Over the last four seasons, he has scored .74 runs per game, driven in .37 runs per game, stolen .17 bases per game and homered .234 times per game. If he played in 150 games in a season, that would measure out to 111 runs, 56 RBI’s, 26 steals and 35 home runs. With those counting stats along with the .264 batting average we have Weeks projected for, he would rank as the sixth best fantasy second baseman. Now, it’s clearly unlikely that Weeks will play in that many games, but his game by game production is top of the line. In a format where it’s easy to adjust to injuries, Weeks is worth the risk.

The Sexy Pick I Don’t Like
Howie Kendrick (LAA) 760 – Kendrick does not provide a lot of pop (57.34 at bats/ HR for his career), and his speed totals are only average for a middle infielder. However, people keep coming back to Kendrick because the scouting reports seemingly forever have said he’ll win a batting title one day. Well, Kendrick is the type of player where I’ll wait to see it before I believe it. And right now all I’m seeing is a poor EYE (.28 in ’09, .21 for career) and poor chase percentage (35.6% for his career).

The Super Sub
If I find Weeks struggling/hurt, I’ll make up cap room somewhere else and play Ian Kinsler (TEX) 1080. Originally, I was going to take Chase Utley as my backup on the taxi squad, but his high salary does not give me enough flexibility, especially considering Weeks’ injury history. The only downside to Kinsler is that he is a batting average risk, having hit below .265 in two of the previous three seasons. However, I already have planned for a low BA at the 2B position with Weeks as a starter, so subbing in Kinsler for Weeks will not hurt me in the BA department. Also, consider Kinsler had a singles average of .180 last season (68 points below his three year average) despite posting a career high .77 EYE. Kinsler is also nice to carry on your taxi squad as a splits player. In 1133 career home plate appearances, Kinsler’s AVG/OBP/SLG line is .311/.382/.542 thanks to a .79 EYE. On the road that triple slash is .248/.318/.412 with an EYE of .64.

If you can afford him, Chase Utley is as safe of a pick as he comes. He’s got premiere talent at the middle infield position, and he also finds himself smack dab in one of the NL’s best lineups in a hitter’s park. If he repeats last year’s numbers he’s a stud, but he could be even better if he is able to turn a few XBH into some extra homers. Also, an unlucky singles average last season means his average isn’t going anywhere but North in '10.

Other solid options include Robinson Cano and Aaron Hill, but frankly I don’t think they’ll be able to compete with Kinsler’s numbers and I can’t afford two 1 million dollar plus second basemen.

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But what if Kinsler hits .253 like last year? He is also completely different when it comes to H/A splits. Kendrick's appeal is based on the assurance that he will give you a .300 BA with SBs in the teens. Also consider that Cano will bat 5th this year in the Yankee lineup

But what if Kinsler hits .253 like last year? He is also completely different when it comes to H/A splits. Kendrick's appeal is based on the assurance that he will give you a .300 BA with SBs in the teens. Also consider that Cano will bat 5th this year in the Yankee lineup

Rickie Weeks will be lucky to hit .253 - and then he'll get hurt, probably on a swing and a miss.

Weeks has some serious upside. Michael just points that out. Kinsler's hurt already so I'm thinking Zobrist (batting 3d yesterday) or Robbie. If and when Weeks does go down, then you replace him.

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