Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What about Carlos?

Can anyone tell me why Yahoo! pre-ranked Carlos Pena at #58 this year? Perhaps more importantly, why was he rated #13 among first basemen? Stranger still, of first basemen with the first name Carlos, Pena still only comes in at number two (behind Carlos Guillen).

Granted, I fully realize that Pena had been a journeyman (at best) before his breakout season of 2007. However, when you go back and look at his numbers last year, he was remarkably consistent from month to month. After a poor April, in each of the next five months he had an OBP/SLG of at least .397/.571.

From the articles I've read over the past eight or so months, Pena's turnaround seems to come down to the simple fact that he has matured as a big leaguer and, after bouncing from team to team, finally found a "home" in Tampa Bay. Also, keep in mind that Pena was the MLB's #10 overall pick in 1998, so he's always had the raw talent.

The past few years I've been trying to rank the top 7 or so guys (in my opinion) at each position prior to the draft. This year I found myself really debating my 1B rankings. With the injury uncertainty surrounding Albert Pujols, I took him out of my top rankings. That left me to ponder three guys at the top: Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Pena.

Given Howard's regression last year, I chose to stay away from him. But choosing between Fielder and Pena was a little more difficult for me. I do think Fielder has more upside, but Pena seems to be the more seasoned hitter. In the end, I chose Fielder with the #6 pick, and since our league has two utility spots I took Pena in the third round at #30. Although, I do think Pena could end up with the best fantasy numbers at 1B when this season is over.

How about you? There are a lot of mashers at 1B. Who would your pick be for this season?


Chairman said...

I may be wrong, but I believe that Yahoo! preseason rankings include batting average, which the UPL doesn't use. Also, when compared to Fielder and Howard, Pena is on the age plateau, whereas, Fielder is on the way up, and Howard is just getting there.

That said, with the top picks in baseball, your goal isn't to win the league. It's to minimize the risk you take on in getting your superstars. To win, you need to separate yourself from the pack. It's hard to differentiate between all-start players, on the upside. But a bad or injury-prone season can create a bad sort of separation for you. On the flipside, winning teams always find all-stars in the late rounds, getting 1st round talent in the 6th, 2nd round performance in the 12th, and 3rd round performance in the 18th round or in free agency. Think back to Bret Boone and Paul LoDuca in the inaugural UPL, which is now getting an asterisk, given the admission of performance enhancing drugs by LoDuca and suspicion of such by Boone :-)

Where Pena's value gets discounted is because of the additional variability that he takes on (since his career stats underwhelming, save for 2007) in comparison to Howard and Fielder, who have a couple full seasons of high/elite performance. Getting him in the 3rd or 4th round is probably good value, but you still have that risk built in.

That said, I've always believed in playing to win, taking on injury risk, and trusting that I can win in free agency and make a couple trades that round out my team. I considered Pena, but I had to roll with Dunn in the 3rd, since he was on the Reds (and that he was an OF, and I already took Teixeira in the 2nd).

Greg McConnell said...

That said, I've always believed in playing to win, taking on injury risk, and trusting that I can win in free agency and make a couple trades that round out my team.

Chairman, I'm well aware of your fantasy baseball tendencies. I've been observing them for seven seasons and have been incorporating many of the good ones. My goal is to identify where you, and others in our league, go wrong and then try to capitalize.

As for putting an asterisk on my 2001 victory, that's fine with me as long as I'm not called before Congress. ;-)

Also, I've noticed that two people have voted for "Somebody else" in my web poll. Perhaps those are votes for Derrek Lee? I also left off Justin Morneau, a former AL MVP.

Greg McConnell said...

Well, the first poll is done. We had "Somebody else" win with 33% of the vote. Tied for second at 16% were Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, and Mark Teixeira.