By Jimmy Hascup
I had the opportunity to send several questions over to the fantasy manager at Baseball Prospectus, Marc Normandin. I’m one of the believers that you can’t get enough opinions in the fantasy-sports world and the more you get, the more you are able to combine all the voices and make judgments on your own. BP is a site I greatly respect and I was fortunate enough to have Marc take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions – and give a bit of advice – pertaining to the 2010 season.
1) Who are your top breakout players for this year from the NL and AL, respectively.
From the NL, I expect Carlos Gonzalez to breakout–he was a guy that kept slipping in fantasy drafts for some reason, and I don’t understand it. He’s a big-time sleeper, but won’t be after this year. As for the AL, though he did a little of this in the second half of last season, look for Brett Anderson. He’s going to show everyone that he’s already an ace, and well ahead of the more highly-touted Rick Porcello as far as performance goes.
2) Who are your top rookies (besides, of course, Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg) from the AL and NL that you see making an impact in fantasy leagues this season?
Aroldis Chapman is the big one for me. I’m curious about how his control and secondary stuff translates in the majors, but his fastball is devastating in any league, at any level. He’s young, and is going to be fun to watch, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was able to perform at the same level as Strasburg in his debut season.
In the AL, I’ll go with Brian Matusz, who I think is already a very well-established pitcher. People may not trust him because he hasn’t been out of the minors long, but if you’ve been watching him in 2010, you already know what I mean.
3) Who’s one guy you’re marking off as a bust (after a great 2009 campaign) in 2010?
Raul Ibanez, for sure. His first half had a lot of luck in it, much of it dealing with favorable wind and weather conditions as well as his home park. The second half was blamed on injuries, but a lot of it was just regression–look for his final line of 2010 to show off what he’s capable of at this stage in his career.
4) We’ve been asking this for years, but after the fast start to the 2010 season, is this the year that Delmon Young lives up to his prospect hype? He’s still just 24…
I know a lot of people who say yes, but I’m still not feeling it. I’m going to miss the boat on this one, because I pretty much refuse to give in until I see it for myself. Delmon Young has burned that bridge in the past, and more than once since I’ve tried to rebuild it.
5) Does David Price put it all together this year? What are your predictions for him?
Price has immense talent, but he hasn’t consistently put it together yet into one package. I think by midseason we’ll see him come around–he may be a bit less consistent in the first half, but the production in the second half will more than make up for his first half education. He’s got serious stuff, and while he isn’t a Cy contender or anything out of the gate, he’s got a special arm.
6) Who is one hitter and one pitcher you’re targeting as one of those under-the-radar type players? I would call them “sleepers”, but by the time you make that declaration, then everyone picks them up and they aren’t too much of an “unknown.”
Mat Latos for a pitcher–he’s got some great stuff, but a lot of people are unsure about him due to the light workload the Padres are putting him under. There are also some doubts about how much Petco will help his performance, but this is a fantasy league–they aren’t park-adjusting his stats, go take advantage of that.
I hate to double dip, but I’m sticking with Carlos Gonzalez for a hitter. If you want some others, I think Denard Span will be better than he has been, and I think Chase Headley is going to surprise a lot of people, even with his home games at Petco.
7) If there’s one rule of thumb you live by in fantasy leagues (that you’re willing to share), what is it?
Don’t panic. I’ve borrowed this from Moneyball, but it works very well for fantasy. You can spend two months figuring out what you have, two months tinkering, and two months winning. You would be surprised at how effective that is. You will lose more often than win if you just start dropping players left and right when they struggle early, and replace them with guys you didn’t think were worth drafting. Patience is the key.
What do you guys think about Marc’s answers? What do you agree with? What is something you disagree with?
Another special thanks to Marc for helping us all out!