Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Top Double Threat OF - HR & SB

Today I'm going to take a look at this season's top producing double threat outfielders in HR & steals. Ideally, I'll be looking for players that will finish with 20-20 type seasons, although I'll make a few exceptions to highlight players with the potential. In keeper leagues, I value these players more highly than the slugger types, since steals are not always easy to come by. If you have a few of these guys on your roster, you'll remain competitive in steals without having to include a Juan Pierre / Dave Roberts type of player on your team. I'll also give you my feedback on whether these guys are 'keeper-worthy' for next season.

Gary Sheffield (OF)
.290 Avg
23 HR
17 SB
What's gotten into Mr. Sheffield this season? He's on pace to potentially exceed his single season career best in steals (25 in 1990). He has been surprisingly consistent this season stealing bases - he has 4, 3, 4, & 6 in the four full months of the season. He's also only been caught 4 times.

Keeper Worthy?
I don't think he can duplicate this many more seasons, but enjoy the benefits of his impressive all around season this year. I would probably suggest holding onto him for at least one more season.

Grady Sizemore (OF)
.280 Avg
19 HR
28 SB
No surprise here...Grady is going to be an annual 30-30 threat for years to come. His early season steal pace has slowed (after 8 & 9 steals in the first two months of the season vs. 6 & 4 in the last two months), but he's still succeeding at an above average rate (80% on the season).

Keeper Worthy?
He's an awesome keeper, and watch out for a power surge in the next few years.

Eric Byrnes (OF)
.303 Avg
17 HR
28 SB
I knew Byrnes would be solid, but he has exceeded my expectations this season. He's having a career year thus far, and showing no signs of slowing down. He had an incredible July on the basepaths (with 12 steals in 13 attempts), but I think it's more realistic to expect 5-8 steals per month from here on out

Keeper Worthy?
I don't think he's quite keeper material, but keep an eye on him in next year's drafts, since I don't think he'll slip out of the top 10 rounds (like he did in many drafts this year).

Alex Rios (OF)
.301 Avg
20 HR
10 SB
Rios has officially arrived. He honestly hasn't been running as much as I expected this season, but he's had a good success rate. He is still young, so expect many more seasons like this from Rios in the upcoming years.

Keeper Worthy?
Yes, he'll be the player that Vernon Wells was supposed to be this season.

Curtis Granderson (OF)
.298 Avg
16 HR
14 SB
The triples machine is having a career year, in only his second full season in the majors. He has not been caught stealing this year in 14 attempts, so he's using his speed wisely. He's also scoring a ton of runs hitting at the top of the Tigers lineup

Keeper Worthy?
I probably wouldn't keep him going into next season, but expect him to continue to put up solid numbers.

Tori Hunter (OF)
.288 Avg
22 HR
11 SB
Hunter hasn't been running as much the past two months, but he's still having a very solid season. Expect him to hit in the .265 - .275 range, but consistently hitting 20 HR & stealing 20 bags per season.

Keeper Worthy?
I probably wouldn't hold onto him due to his relatively low career batting average, but he's certainly worth consideration in deeper leagues.

Alfonso Soriano (OF)
.297 Avg
18 HR
18 SB
Soriano has had a good season, but has not quite put up the numbers than some people expected coming into the year. Every year can't be a 40-40 year (like last year), or even a 30-30 year (like 2 years ago).

Keeper Worthy?
Are you serious? Even with his recent injury, he'll continue to be a top 10 overall fantasy contributor & is keeper worthy in every league out there.

B.J. Upton (OF, 2B)
.325 Avg
16 HR
13 SB
Upton has really surprised some experts this year. He entered the year as a potential utility man on the Devil Rays. He's emerged as one of the best players on the team & a certain future star. I'd be surprised to find anyone who expected BJ Upton to put up better numbers on the year than super-prospect Delmon Young (who I discuss below). Even though he strikes out at a higher ratio than would be ideal, he is a great hitter with a quick swing & superstar written all over him. Note, he'll likely lose his 2B eligibility next season, so compare him to OF when determining whether to keep him.

Keeper Worthy?
I think he'll make a good keeper, especially if he ends up fulfilling his stolen base potential (where I see him as a potential 40+ sb / year candidate).

Corey Hart (OF)
.280 Avg
18 HR
18 SB
Hart has surprised some this season, although many fantasy experts already had him pegged as a sleeper going into the year. He had an insane June, although he has cooled off since. Expect him to finish around 25-25 on the year, incredible for a 1st year starter who didn't even begin the year with a full time job.

Check out this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about Hart's view on a 20-20 season (or 30-30).

Keeper Worthy?
You have to give him serious consideration. I think he has the potential to steal 30+ bags/year, his power is still developing, he's got a good eye at the plate, and he leads off for a very good, young lineup. Some might argue that it's crazy to recommend keeping Hart while potentially letting Hunter go, but I'd take the chance based on Hart's youth & upside.

Carlos Beltran (OF)
.263 Avg
19 HR
15 SB
Newsflash - Beltran is injured again! I have Beltran in a keeper league that's now in it's third season, and I'm beginning to lose my patience with Carlos. He's a great talent, who rivals Soriano when he's healthy for his combination of power & speed...but unfortunately, he just can't stay healthy. He's still young, so he's got many potentially great seasons ahead of him; just keep your fingers crossed for him to stay healthy.

Keeper Worthy?
Even though the missed time has owners frustrated, he's still a top 20 player & certainly keeper worthy. Even during an off year, he'll still get you 20 HR & 20 steals...

Chris B. Young (OF)
.240 Avg
19 HR
17 SB
An interesting year for the rookie Diamondback. Coming into the season, he was most often compared to Mike Cameron, a player who hits HR, steals bases, but hits around .250. This projection has proven to be spot on. I think Young will end up being a .270 hitter in the pros, and he's proven to already have major league power & speed.

Keeper Worthy?
I don't think he's a keeper quite yet. His low average will hurt most roto teams, but he's going to be a solid 20-20 + contributor for a long time.

Knocking on the Door:
Delmon Young (OF)
.292 Avg
9 HR
7 SB
He's kept his temper in check, and improved his average as the year has progressed, although this power & speed combo player has been relatively quiet in his first full season in the majors. He was the 'can't miss' prospect who everyone expected to break out in a big way this season; he's got 35-25 potential, and many expected a minimum of 15-15 or 20-20 this year. I have been impressed by his ability to hit for average this year, as his high strikeout ratio led me to believe he'd hit well below .300.

Keeper Worthy?
I think so; in deeper keeper leagues, he was kept by many after last season. Now that he'll have a full year under his belt, I think he'll only get better. I expected more this year, but there no reason to think it won't happen in the coming years.

Hunter Pence (OF)
.330 Avg
12 HR
8 SB
Although Pence is currently injured, he was arguably the front runner for NL rookie of the year before he missed time. He has not only proven to be major league ready, but he's proven that he's ready to be a star. He was incredibly consistent his first 3 full months in the majors - he hit .343 w/4 HR & 3 SB, .314 w/4 HR & 4 SB, and .329 w/4 HR & 1 SB. I think he'll be the face of the Astros for many years to come, and he's got an awesome career ahead of him.

Keeper Worthy?
Pay close attention to his recovery from his wrist injury, since other young players with wrist injuries have had a difficult time getting their groove back - see Rickie Weeks & Ian Kinsler for two examples this season. I'd be nervous keeping him without seeing some late season success after he returns from the DL, but if he picks up where he left off, he's probably worth the risk.

Justin Upton (OF)
.308 Avg
0 HR
0 SB
He's the new kid on the block; the youngest current player in the majors. He ripped up the minors this season (in A & AA), and I think he's in the majors to stay. Many compare him to Ken Griffey Jr., who also made it to the majors as a 19 year old; not a bad player to be compared to. I think he'll have bumps in the road this year, but he's an emerging talent, and he's likely going to be a star.

Keeper Worthy?
This one affects me directly, since I just used my #4 waiver priority (in a 16 team, deep keeper league) on him. So far this year, I've missed out on the following rookies via my lower waiver position:

-Hunter Pence
-Ryan Braun
-Yovani Gallardo
-Billy Butler
-Phil Hughes

I wasn't going to miss out this time, so for my sake, I hope he's major league ready. I think he's keeper worthy in deep leagues such as mine discussed above, but he'll need to stay up in the majors the remainder of the year to prove his worth. Unless he really impresses over the next two months, he probably shouldn't be kept in normal depth / shallow keeper leagues.

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