I’ll write more about my recent fantasy draft later (I did better than I thought I would), but I thought I would scratch out a quick post for anyone preparing for a draft, or trying to find some help after a draft. If you got Hanley Ramirez, then this post is meaningless to you. But for anyone who didn’t draft a shortstop in the early rounds, here’s two players who are likely available in your league and equally likely to have an impact in 2010.
Cabrera was a rule 5 draft pick last year who hadn’t previously played a single game above single-A ball. In 377 at-bats, he put up a very respectable .255 / .342 / .361 with 25 stolen bases and 59 runs scored [baseball-reference.com]. Factor that out to a full season, and you’ve got 93 runs scored and 39 stolen bases. And that assumes he doesn’t grow between his 23rd and 24th birthday. Not bad production out of shortstop for a player owned in only 8% of Yahoo leagues. On the minus side, he’s slated to hit 9th next season [cbssports.com]. On the plus side, David Eckstein holds the current 2 spot in the Padres order. You have to wonder if Cabrera’s OBP and speed doesn’t knock Eckstein out of that spot (especially if Eckstein puts up last season’s .260 / .323 / .334 line–a .323 OBP for a #2 hitter with no power or speed?).
Garaunteed the Brewers’ starting shortstop position and slated to hit 2nd in the order, Escobar has opportunity for huge fantasy upside. If I rank Cabrera a bit higher, it is because the MLB sample size is a bit larger (Escobar has had only 138 MLB plate appearances). It is also because, even in the minors, Cabrera has shown far more plate discipline. Escobar tends to swing (and miss). But his 2008 AA and 2009 AAA season [baseball-reference.com/minors] also show a player who can get on base (.363 and .353 OBP respectively) and steal one once on (combined 76 to 18 SB/CS ratio over those seasons). Hitting second in the order, ahead of Fielder and Braun, should get him some serious runs scored. The question here is whether he has the plate discipline to survive in MLB. His spring training statistics [mlb.com] suggest he does–he’s got a .372 average in 43 at bats. The downside? He’s only walked twice all spring. When the season starts, and pitchers stop throwing junk over the plate, I’ll be watching his BB:K and contact % closely.
Again, these guys aren’t going to make the all-start team. But if you’re looking at Marco Scutaro, Rafael Furcal, or Erick Aybar at SS, you might want to take a flyer on these potentially productive two-category players.