Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cincinnati Reds 2008 Fantasy Season Preview

A better fantasy team than they are a real team, the Cincinnati Reds are the next team up in the FSE Fantasy Team Preview series.

Projected Lineup

CF Ryan Freel
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Ken Griffey Jr.
LF Adam Dunn
3B Edwin Encarnacion
1B Joey Votto
C David Ross
SS Alex Gonzalez

Projected Starting Rotation

Ace - Aaron Harang
#2 - Bronson Arroyo
#3 - Matt Belisle
#4 - Edinson Volquez
#5 - Homer Bailey/Jeremy Affeldt

Projected Bullpen

Closer- Fransisco Cordero

Middle Relievers - David Weathers, Jared Burton, Mike Stanton, Bill Bray, Todd Coffey, Gary Majewski, Marcus McBeth, Brad Salmon, Jon Coutlangus

Hitters to Draft

Brandon Phillips, 2B - Um... did anyone else notice Phillips went 30/30 last season? For all the hype Chase Utley will get for being the top ranked 2B, Phillips is the one who really deserves the honor. He turns 27 this season, and according to fantasy lore, this means he is entering his prime. Look for him to improve his power numbers a bit this season, probably adding a couple of HR and RBI while stealing a few less bases.

Adam Dunn, LF - He strikes out too much and hits for a low batting average. Yeah, we know all the negatives, now here is the reality. First off, most fantasy leagues don't count strike outs against hitters. Second, can you name the only 4 players who have averaged 40HR, 100RBI and 1OO runs scored the last three seasons? Answer: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz and Adam Dunn; that is some pretty elite company. The first 2 are legit first round picks (if not the first pick) consistently every season while Ortiz is one of the best hitters in the game, but limited in fantasy due to his DH-only eligibility. Dunn is among the most over looked players in fantasy baseball because most of his press focuses on what he can't do and not enough on what he does. Dunn will consistently fill up the power categories and gets on base at a good clip due to his good walk totals.

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B - I am a big fan of second half stats and in the second half of last season (67 games) Encarnacion hit .309, with 40RBI, 34r and 10HR. All were a improvement over his first half stats despite playing in 5 less games. Encarnacion can also steal a few bases, which over the course of a Head to Head season, makes him a bit more valuable than some other 3B out there.

Pitchers To Draft

Aaron Harang, SP - The last of the aces who will get drafted, Harang plays in one of the best hitter's parks in the NL and is still a lock for 200IP, 200K and 15W. If he ever escapes Cincy and Great American Ballpark, he is a guy who has the potential to be among the elite pitchers in fantasy.

Francisco Cordero, CL - A good closer who will collect a bunch of saves because Cincinnati's starting pitching isn't good enough to win too many games outright yet the offense is strong enough to keep them close. I actually like Cincinnati's setup men this season to help bridge the gap to Cordero, despite their injuries and struggles last season.

Players to Avoid

Ken Griffey Jr., RF - He might finish with 35HR and 80-90 RBI, but if there is one other thing Griffey does well, it's miss games in September. In Head to Head leagues you cannot risk losing a bat like Griffey's in the middle of your fantasy baseball playoffs. It is better to draft a healthy player who you know will be out there consistently rather than and injury plagued hitter, who always, always goes down in September and can't finish a season strong.

Ryan Freel, CF - Is slated to start the season as the Reds' centerfielder, but has always been too injury prone to stay on the field for an extended period of time. He is very fast and can steal a base, but his best strength isn't his speed, it is his versatility as a utility man. Never thought I would say this, but he is a Chone Figgins Light. However, while Figgins can play all over the field (and stay on the field) everyday, Freel has proven time and time again, he cannot be trusted to stay healthy on a daily basis.

Sleepers

Norris Hopper, OF - Speedy outfielder, similar to the make up of a Ryan Freel, only he can stay healthy. He doesn't have much...any... power so don't draft him hoping for 10/30 or anything like that. He seems more like a Juan Pierre type, and if drafted with the right fantasy make up around him, that ain't bad.

Joey Votto, 1B - A first base prospect who went 20/20 last season in the minors and hit well in his September stint in the majors. He is slotted to start at 1B this season with Scott Hatteberg penciled in as his back up. Hatteberg could take some at bats from him if he slumps at all during the season, but Look for Votto to get the majority of at bats, and even help out with the occasional stolen base.

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