Who to Watch: Royals, Twins

After a couple weeks off (in order to finish up the draft guide) Brett Greenfield and I are back and taking on the task of focusing on one player from each team you want to target on draft day and one player you want to avoid.  Today we look at two teams from the AL Central, one who is a consistent competitor and one that has Yunieski Betancourt at shortstop (yuck). 

The Royals don’t have a great deal of Superstar power outside of Zack Grenkie, but the guy I want in 2010 is the rising star Billy Butler.  Butler finally came into his own in the second half of last season once he settled in at the plate.  As his comfort and confidence grew, he started to put a little loft in his swing, which resulted in a season high six home runs in September.  Last season Butler drove in 93 runs even in that mediocre lineup and even with a mediocre start to the season.  Also, Butler hit 51 doubles in 2009, which was second best in the Major Leagues to Brian Roberts.  Butler looks like the classic line drive hitter with developing power.  Some of those 51 doubles should turn into home runs in 2010 as often happens with young hitters of Butler’s ability.


The Royals player I want to avoid on draft day 2010 is Gil Meche.  While Meche obviously isn’t a great fantasy option, his draft stock is still high enough to put him amongst names like Stephen Strasburg, Ricky Romero, Joe Blanton, Aaron Harang and Wade Davis, all of which have more upside than Meche.  In 2009, shoulder inflammation and back injuries bothered Meche all season, eventually shutting him down.  His walk rate went up and his strikeout rate went down while allowing 144 hits in 129 innings.  When you get to the point in the draft where it’s time to take a flier on some pitching depth, take your flier on someone else.


The player I want to target from the Twins is Scott Baker.  Baker’s ERA went from 3.45 in 2008 to 4.37 last season, but most of his other numbers stayed remarkably the same.  Baker put up an almost identical K/BB rate between the two seasons while generating only one percent fewer swings on pitches outside the strike-zone and very little change in the rate in which batters made contact on his pitches.  A fly ball pitcher, Baker was hurt a bit by the home run in 2009 allowing 28 total.  Half of those home runs (14) came in April and May.  Baker made the adjustment and allowed 14 home runs the next four months.  Some home runs hurt more than others as was the case for Baker in 2009.  14 of his 28 home runs allowed were with runners on base.  He allowed 11 two-run home runs and three three-run home runs.  Moving to the new outdoor Stadium should help the Twins pitching staff as a whole as grounders will no longer skip along the turf and fly balls will have wind and temperatures to contend with.  Look for Baker’s ERA to get back under 4.00 this season and for his value to be spot on as a mid-round pick and a solid 3-4 fantasy starter.


The Twins player I want to avoid on draft day 2010 is Michael Cuddyer.  According to Mock Draft Central, Cuddyer is going right around the tenth round and above other outfield options like Denard Span, Nyjer Morgan and Jay Bruce.  2009 was Cuddyer’s best season as far as power production as he posted a .245 ISO, the highest of his career.  His 32 home runs represented a career high and a career best 18.4 AB/HR rate.  His previous best AB/HR rate was 23.2 back in 2006.  Cuddyer is a very solid Major League baseball player, but sometimes that doesn’t always translate into being a valuable fantasy player.  His career AVG is .270 and he won’t steal more than five or so bases.  If the power production declines, which is a good bet, and the AVG stays around the .270-.275 range, the runs and RBI production will decrease, making anything other than a late round pick inadvisable. 
Brett Greenfield of Fantasy Phenoms gives his take:


The Royal you want on your team this year is Robinson Tejeda.  While Greinke and Butler are givens, Tejeda is this year’s version of Jorge De La Rosa.  Sure enough, De La Rosa used to be a Royal himself, before Colorado stole him away.  Tejeda finished the year with 87 strikeouts in 73 IP, while sporting a 3.54 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.  Ya gotta love second half stats.  Take a flier on him late.


The Royal you don’t want on your team this year is Rick Ankiel.  He was better served as a starting pitcher and missed the boat.  Moving across the river doesn’t seem likely to change his stats.  He should provide a low average and about 20-25 homers.  Unfortunately, that’s about all.  He doesn’t run and won’t hit in a prominent enough lineup spot to be fantasy worthy.


The Twin you want on your team in 2010 is Scott Baker.  He’s increased his inning total five years in a row and finally reached 200 last year.  His K/9 ratio is still mediocre, but his WHIP has been below 1.20 two years running.  Unless he ups his K/9 ratio, he won’t be a #2 SP, but he’s certainly a good #3 with some upside.

The Twin you don’t want on your team in 2010 is Delmon Young.  He’s not even guaranteed a full-time gig right now and is making the team look foolish for giving away Matt Garza.  He’s shown potential of becoming a 20/20 player and has always hit for a respectable average, but here’s the problem: if you are one of the believers, you’ll end up drafting him late.  You’ll justify it to yourself by claiming that “it was one of your last picks in the draft.” All that is fine and dandy, until you end up missing out on this year’s Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill, Kendry Morales, Mark Reynolds or Adam Lind because you refused to drop “a guy with such upside.”