Anatomy of a Keeper Champ: The Hitters

My boys, the Rock Hill (SC) Chiefs, are the defending champions in a 16-team, 5 x 5, rotisserie-style keeper league. Our rosters have 25 active players with no more than 10 reserves.  We do have a free agency rule in place which states you can’t keep a player who signed a free agent deal with another team. There is no minimum or maximum number of keepers.  Each owner can do anything ranging from dumping every player to keeping their entire squad intact.

With that said, I thought I’d put the champs up for evaluation and invite discussion on where I presently stand on them. A lot can happen between now and spring training when keeper decisions are due so this is an early plan and nowhere near a final decision.  In Part 1, we’ll take a look at the Chiefs hitters and then we’ll cover the pitching staff in Part 2.   Here are the hitters who finished 2011 on the active roster …

C1 Brian McCann (ATL) … A lot of really good contending fantasy players ignore their catchers altogether and invest elsewhere since it’s easily the weakest position in your lineup. However, there are a scant handful of truly valuable fantasy backstops. Brian McCann is one of them. No catcher plays a full season anymore and McCann won’t either but his power and run production are absolutely critical to the Braves’ lineup.  Keep (1).

C2 AJ Pierzynski (CHW) … He’s a decent late-round pick but nothing more at this point. Drop (1).

1B Billy Butler (KC) … Butler is a doubles hitting machine with good run production but not as much power as you’d ideally like in a 1B. Tough call because he played mostly at DH in 2011 and may not qualify for 1B. TBD (1).

2B Eric Young (COL) … Young was a late-season addition to help pick up a few extra stolen bases. That’s all he worth at the moment. Drop (2).

3B Ty Wigginton (COL) … He was a serviceable 3B in 2011. Nothing special. Now he’s headed to the Phillies to play a utility role. I can get him again in a late round if needed. Drop (3).

SS Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE) … Cabrera had a breakout season in 2011. I gave up some blue chip prospects at the trade deadline to get him and, even though he didn’t finish as well as he started, he stays. Keep (2).

MI Brandon Phillips (CIN) … Phillips was another trade deadline acquisition who helped my September title drive. He’s a free agent after 2012 so this might be my last year with him. Keep (3).

CI Freddie Freeman (ATL) … I gambled on this young Brave in the draft last year and he came through with a tremendous rookie campaign. A superstar in the making. You’re not going anywhere, young man. Keep (4).

OF1 Carlos Gonzalez (COL) … CarGo had some injury woes in 2011 but you don’t drop a young superstar with legitimate Triple Crown pop. Keep (5).

OF2 Andrew McCutchen (PIT) … The majors’ next 30-30 superstar. Sit down, Andrew, and unpack your bags. You’re not leaving either. Keep (6).

OF3 Michael Morse (WAS) … Another roll of the dice that worked wonders. A breakout power season from the young Nat. More, please. Keep (7).

OF4 Alex Presley (PIT) … He was exciting when he was in the Pirates lineup and produced some nice little numbers for an OF with no power but he’s not worth a keeper spot yet. Drop (4).

OF5 Nick Swisher (NYY) … Nick’s power numbers regressed some in 2011 but he still provided very good OBP and decent run production. I believe in keeping players who play regularly for winning teams. Nick stays. Keep (8).

DH John Mayberry Jr (PHI) … Mayberry busted out big time in limited swings for the Phils last year. He’ll start in 2012 but might split time between LF, CF and 1B. Which makes him even more valuable. Keep (9).  

BN Will Venable (SD) … Could break out some day but not worth keeping until he does. Drop (5).

So how do we look?  So far, I’m planning to keep 9 hitters, drop 5 and hold off for now on Billy Butler depending on his position eligibility.  Next time, we’ll look at the arms.