Fantasy Baseball Insider - book sample (random players) - 2008

Rich Aurilia, San Francisco Giants, Bats Right, Age 36 – Aurilia dropped off at the plate last year and missed time with a strained neck suffered in a car accident in spring training. "I had headaches for five weeks," he said. "I couldn't turn my head to face the pitcher." He hit .339 over his first 16 games before his neck stiffened up and remained that way for the rest of the season. "It didn't bother me for two months, but I talked to several people who say necks can be funny like that." Two cortisone injections brought temporary relief but the pain didn't go away until this winter. Expect a rebound at the plate somewhat. He will open the season at third base but there have been rumors about a Joe Crede acquisition in which case Aurilia would back up all four infield positions. Grab him late or on reserve for his INF-OF versatility.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Mariners-Padres

399

49

6

44

1

.246

.310

2005

Reds

426

61

14

68

2

.282

.338

2006

Reds

440

61

23

70

3

.300

.349

2007

Giants

329

40

5

33

0

.252

.304

 

Projected

375

45

12

44

0

.282

 

 

Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati Reds, Bats Right, Age 25 – Encarnacion is a very streaky hitter and defender and was optioned to Louisville last May after batting just .218 with six errors in 31 games. He then hit .413 in 11 games and was quickly recalled batting .300 the rest of the way. "I feel very comfortable at the plate. My defense is working hard; everything is working. If you are working hard every day, good things will come," he said.  Some think he'll benefit a lot from Dusty Baker's influence. Should be a more reliable pickup this year.

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2005

Reds

211

25

9

31

3

.232

.308

2006

Reds

406

60

15

72

6

.276

.359

2007

Reds

502

66

16

76

8

.289

.356

 

Projected

500

76

22

86

8

.277

 

 

Yunel Escobar, Atlanta Braves, Bats Right, Age 25 – Escobar filled in admirably for the injured Renteria last year (.294 with a dinger and four doubles in 18 games) and now takes over for good. He has some pop (25 doubles) and also draws a few walks while making good contact at the plate. "I think he can be a .300 hitter in this league, no doubt in my mind," hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "He has a good idea of the strike zone, and he's aggressive in it." But it’s not going to be easy. "He might have to make adjustments this year as [pitchers] make adjustments to him, but he can hit. It showed last year, when he went against some teams a second and third time last year." He is a solid defensive player and could be a sleeper this year. He has eligibility at 2B-SS-3B. 

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2006

AA

428

55

2

45

7

.263

.361

2007

AAA

180

20

2

29

7

.333

.379

2007

Braves

319

54

5

28

5

.326

.385

 

Projected

500

72

8

48

9

.281

 

 

Ben Francisco, Cleveland Indians, Bats Right, Age 26 – Francisco has good bat and foot speed and can hit the breaking ball. His only flaws are a tendency to chase high fastballs once in a while and he also needs to be more aggressive defensively. He got lost among other outfield prospects in the system but will try to win a reserve job again this spring. He makes for a nice sleeper reserve pick if he does because he can hit. He was selected the International League's "most exciting player."

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2006

AAA

515

80

17

59

25

.278

.345

2007

AAA

377

60

12

51

22

.318

.382

2007

Indians

62

10

3

12

0

.274

.303

 

Carlos Gonzalez, Oakland Athletics, Bats Left, Age 22 – Gonzalez, acquired in the Dan Haren deal, was generally regarded as the top prospect in the Diamondbacks system, but was blocked by talent already in the majors. He hit .286-16-75 in 120 games at AA Mobile and .310 with one home run in 10 games after a promotion to Tucson. He will move quickly if he improves plate discipline and pitch recognition but probably needs more time at AAA. He has power and batting average potential and plays an excellent right field. Bob Geren said the A's would take a long look at him in center this spring. Has star potential if he can put it all together. Great future pick.

 

Brendan Harris, Minnesota Twins, Bats Right, Age 27 – Harris has developing power and plays solid defense but still needs to reduce his strikeouts and draw more walks. He has played mostly at second base, but can also play shortstop and third base. He opened last season as the Rays starting shortstop, but was moved to second because of questions about his range and durability. He will battle Casilla and Punto at second this spring. Grab him on reserve for his 2B-SS eligibility but keep a close eye on his in camp. If he wins the starting job, he has some value.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Cubs-Expos

59

4

1

3

0

.169

.225

2006

Nationals-Reds

42

5

1

3

0

.238

.319

2007

Rays

521

72

12

59

4

.286

.343

 

Raul Ibañez, Seattle Mariners, Bats Left, Age 36 Ibañez struggled with mechanics last year until hitting coach Jeff Pentland got him back on track in August. "It makes him get the feel of the back side releasing," Pentland said about shortening his stride. "It allows him to drive through the ball with his back side, almost like a golfer." He won’t duplicate 2006 again, but he’s been undervalued in early projections.  He’s still worth $20 and you can probably get him for less.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Mariners

481

67

16

62

1

.304

.353

2005

Mariners

614

92

20

89

9

.280

.355

2006

Mariners

626

103

33

123

2

.289

.353

2007

Mariners

573

80

21

105

0

.291

.351

 

Projected

600

83

23

100

2

.283

 

 

Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves, Bats Left, Age 26 – Johnson swings a decent line drive bat with patience at the plate. He developed a power stroke last year while making the successful transition to second base from the outfield. Coming off Tommy John surgery and playing a new position, he made 14 errors though. He also got caught taking too many pitches inside for strike three. "I knew that they were coming in and I wasn't making the adjustment," he said. "That's one thing I want to be ready for." He platooned last year but is set for full time duty this season. Looks good.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2005

Braves

290

46

9

40

2

.241

.334

2007

Braves

521

91

16

68

9

.276

.375

 

Projected

525

84

17

71

7

.261

 

 

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Bats Right, Age 22 – Hopefully Jones is ready for the center field job this year as he was obviously rushed to the majors too soon in 2006. He’ll probably strike out a lot but will be an upgrade for the defense. He has speed and power potential but has trouble with off-speed stuff and plate patience so beware low batting average. He had a breakout year for Tacoma last year and should eventually settle in as a .280 hitter with 20-25 home run power. "He's a tremendously gifted athlete," one executive said. "He's a good kid with good instincts." Excellent future pick.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2006

AAA

380

69

16

62

13

.287

.345

2006

Mariners

74

6

1

8

3

.216

.237

2007

AAA

420

75

25

84

8

.314

 

2007

Mariners

65

16

2

4

2

.246

.300

 

Projected

500

78

15

66

10

.258

 

 

Julio Lugo, Boston Red Sox, Bats Right, Age 32 – Lugo reverted back to his free-swinging ways last year and saw his average drop like a rock. That poor OBP was the worst of his career.  He got off to a slow start and said it was due to a stomach parasite that he picked up in Europe. "I never got my strength back," he said. "I was sick before I came in. This year I feel better. I'm in better condition." He hit .284 in the second half, which might be closer to the norm. He still managed to set a personal high in RBI while clubbing 36 doubles.  He could be undervalued in this year’s drafts.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Rays

581

83

7

75

21

.275

.338

2005

Rays

616

89

6

57

39

.295

.362

2006

Rays-Dodgers

435

69

12

37

24

.278

.341

2007

Red Sox

570

71

8

73

33

.237

.294

 

Projected

575

73

9

66

30

.278

 

 

Steve Pearce, Pittsburgh Pirates, Bats Right, Age 25 – Pearce, a power hitting first baseman who is learning to play the outfield, batted a combined .333-31-113 with 40 doubles for Class-A Lynchburg, AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis last year. He is a decent, not great prospect but will likely begin the season playing everyday at Indy. "In a perfect world, Steve deserves a chance to win an everyday job at the major league level, but with Xavier, with Jason, with Adam, we're not in a position to give that to him," GM Neal Huntington said. Keep an eye on him anyway. A Nady trade could open things up for him. A nice reserve pick.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2007

AA

290

57

14

72

7

.334

.400

2007

AAA

122

18

6

17

5

.320

.366

2007

Pirates

68

13

0

6

2

.294

.342

 

Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay Rays, Bats Left, Age 30 – Peña was released twice in 2006 (by the Red Sox and Yankees) and became the first player in history to hit 40 homers the year after being released. "It's about pitch selection," Joe Maddon said. "He used to hit too many ground balls to second and to first, and then (pitchers) could expand the strike zone. What he's doing now is being more selective." As a result, he will likely be overpriced in most drafts this year.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Tigers

481

89

27

82

7

.241

.338

2005

Tigers

260

37

18

44

0

.235

.325

2006

Red Sox

33

3

1

3

0

.273

.351

2007

Rays

490

99

46

121

1

.282

.411

 

Projected

525

90

37

96

0

.267

 

 

Wily Mo Peña, Washington Nationals, Bats Right, Age 26 – Peña will likely open the season in left field even though he is below average defensively. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate. He was hitting .218-5-17 in 156 at bats with Boston prior to the trade last year so he finished strong, but he could easily start to lose at bats against right-handers this season.  Don’t expect him to be a full-time player all year.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Reds

336

45

26

66

5

.259

.316

2005

Reds

311

42

19

51

2

.254

.304

2006

Red Sox

276

36

11

42

0

.301

.349

2007

Red Sox-Nationals

289

42

13

39

2

.253

.319

 

Projected

425

68

23

57

3

.256

 

 

Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays, Bats Right, Age 27 – Rios’ power has developed nicely the last two years. But his walk rate is low and he is still streaky at the plate so there could be a fallback in certain categories this year. After pitchers started working the outside part of the plate last year, he hit only seven home runs after slugging 17 before the all-star break. He’ll need to adjust this spring or the numbers below could drop significantly.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Blue Jays

426

55

1

28

15

.286

.338

2005

Blue Jays

481

71

10

59

14

.262

.306

2006

Blue Jays

450

68

17

82

15

.302

.349

2007

Blue Jays

643

114

24

85

17

.297

.354

 

Projected

625

105

23

88

16

.296

 

 

Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Bats Right, Age 24 – Reynolds wasn't even on the 40-man roster last spring but hit well after a quick recall but then tailed off at the end. He has good power but strikes out a lot a will probably not hit for a high average in the majors. "Scouting up here is unbelievable," he said. "Every series it might be different pitching. In the minor leagues, it was always soft, soft, soft, away, away, away. And up here, I'm seeing a lot more fastballs in, and they're trying to get me out that way." Lots of sliders too. He plays third base and a little outfield but sometimes struggles defensively. Don’t overbid.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2006

AA

114

23

8

21

0

.272

.346

2007

AA

134

28

6

22

2

.306

.394

2007

Diamondbacks

366

62

17

62

0

.279

.349

 

Projected

425

75

19

69

0

.262

 

 

Chris Snyder, Arizona Diamondbacks, Bats Right, Age 27 – Snyder is a good defensive catcher with some power and improved at the plate last year by going with the pitch more often. A terrible start dragged his average down but he heated up after the break. Bob Melvin noticed: "He's really come of age. Understanding the opponent. The pitchers know he's prepared. And (he's) becoming a bit of a leader as well." Snyder will begin the season as the starter and makes for a nice $5 pickup.

 

 

 

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

2004

Diamondbacks

96

10

5

15

0

.240

.327

2005

Diamondbacks

326

24

6

28

0

.202

.297

2006

Diamondbacks

184

19

6

32

0

.277

.349

2007

Diamondbacks

326

37

13

47

0

.252

.342

 

Projected

400

40

14

44

0

.256