Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Brief History on Sabermetrics Part II (Hitting)

By Simon Stracher

I am sorry that it took me so long to write up this second part, and there most likely be two or three more posts on Sabermetrics. This post will end the hitting part of Sabermetrics. Enjoy!

1. HR/FB (Home-run/Fly ball)- A players home-run rate (HR/FB) is literally the percentage of home-runs hit out of their total fly balls. Good home-run hitters usually have HR/FB ratios usually between 15%-20%. Weaker ones can have as low as 1%. HR/FB can show you if a player is declining (say his HR/FB rate is the same as before but he is hitting less home-runs), or if a player is getting unlucky or lucky (say if a player is hitting more fly balls, but his HR/FB is lower, therefore making him more unlucky and vice versa). If his HR/FB is getting worse, it can also mean the player is losing power and declining and not getting unlucky. In order to get a player's true HR/FB, you should look at their HR/FB over three years, not one or two.

Context (from www.fangraphs.com):

2010 HR/FB Values

2. Spd (Speed Score)- Speed score is a statistic that rates a player based on speed and baserunning ability. Different websites use different components, but Fangraphs uses Stolen Base Percentage, Frequency of Stolen Base Attempts, Percentage of Triples, and Runs Scored Percentage. Speed Score is good for evaluating true speed, but far from perfect. Think before you use it.

Context (from www.fangraphs.com):

2010 Speed Scores

3. GB%, LD%, and FB% (Groundball, Line drive, and Fly ball percentage)- GB%, LD%, and FB% are fairly straightforward; the percentage of groundballs, fly balls, and line drives a player hits every time the ball goes into play. The more groundballs you hit, generally the lower your average. The more line drives you hit, the better your average. The more fly balls you hit, also generally the lower your average but higher home-run totals. Groundballs hitters are usually contact hitters, line drive hitters are usually in between power and contact hitters and have better averages, and fly ball hitters usually have lower averages but higher home-run totals and are power hitters. Remember, hitters want to hit line drives and fly balls, while pitchers try to make hitters hit groundballs.

Context (from www.fangraphs.com):

2010 Batted Ball Values




4. K% and BB% (Strikeout and Walk percentage)- K% and BB% are the percent of times that a player strikes out or walks in his Plate Appearances. High walk rates are good because it allows players to reach base more and have a higher OBP. Lower walk rates are bad because players don't reach base as much and therefore have a lower OBP. High strikeout rates usually indicate a player is swinging for the fences and is a power hitter. Power hitters also usually have high strikeout rates and walk rates since they swing and miss often but get pitched around by pitchers. You don't want a high strikeout rate, but it is not as important as walk rate. You can still be a very productive hitter with a high strikeout rate (Ryan Howard). Remember, power hitters will usually have a high walk and strikeout rate, while contact hitters will have a low walk and strikeout rate.

Context (from www.fangraphs.com):


2010 Strikeout and Walk Rates


5. Plate Discipline (O-Swing%, Z-Swing%, Swing%, O-Contact%, Z-Contact%, Contact%, Zone%, F-Strike%, SwgStr%)- These plate discipline tools help you determine why someone is striking out more/less and walking more/less.

O-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone.

Z-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone.

Swing%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter swings at.

O-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with outside the strike zone when swinging the bat.

Z-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat.

Contact%: The overall percentage of a batter makes contact with when swinging the bat.

Zone%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter sees inside the strike zone.

F-Strike% – The percentage of first pitch strikes.

SwgStr%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings and misses on.

Context (from www.fangraphs.com):

Here are the league averages for each of these statistics for 2010:


This concludes the hitting portion of my posts on advanced hitting statistics. Stay tuned for Part III, advanced pitching statistics. I hope this helped you and you enjoyed it.

(Statistics in courtesy of: www.fangraphs.com).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jayson Werth's new gig

By Mike Moritz
Edited By Jack E. Cody

When Jayson Werth signed the lucrative contract that would keep him in a Washington Nationals uniform for seven seasons for $126 million on December 5, 2010, I was a little surprised to say the least. I really think that Washington overpaid by a lot. But then again, this is the kind of money that the Nationals need to cough up in order to sign a big name player. 

I just wish it was not Jayson Werth.

Don't get me wrong, I like Werth. He is a power hitter who gets on base, sees a lot of pitches, and has superb plate discipline. In a single full season, Werth has never hit less than 24 homers, has never had an OBP of less than .363, never seen less than 4.37 P/PA, and has never posted a wOBA that has never been lower than .384. To add to that, his career O-Swing% is just 20.5%, compared to the general 25% average. 

Before making my ultimate point, it must be known that Werth was unlucky with his power numbers but, on the other hand, got lucky with his batting average.

His career line drive rate is 21.4% and his career ground ball rate is 37.4%. 2010 was a weird year for him as his line drive rate dropped to a career low 17.5% but his ground ball rate hovered around his career line of 37%. On the other hand, his BABIP was a whopping .352 leading to a great .296 average.

In terms of his home runs, his fly ball rate was ABOVE his career mark at 45.4% (his career average is 41.2%). However, his HR/FB ratio was 14.3%, which was the lowest of each of his full seasons (in 2008, it was 21.1% and in 2009, it was 19.3%). The outcome was still an above average 27 homers, with the extra hits being translated into doubles, resulting in Werth raking in a league leading 46 two-baggers.

Statcorner.com helps us understand how baseball stadiums effect players' hits. It scales LD, GB, FB, IFH (in field hits), K, BB, wOBA, singles, doubles, triples and home runs on a scale of 100 for left handed hitters and righties. Anything that is below 100 has a negative effect on that specific statistic and everything that is above 100 has a positive effect.

Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Werth's former team, has a rating of 120 which means that the park has a significant positive effect on long balls, helping Werth out. Singles and doubles, on the other hand, were rated at 97 and 99, respectively. GB were rated at 101, LD at 103 and FB were 96. In another note, the wOBA in Citizen Bank Park is .331.

The home run rating is a neutral 100 while singles and doubles were rated at 98 and 95, again, respectively.  GBs are 101, LD at 106 and FB are 96. The wOBA for the park is .318.

His career batting average .272. Lets consider last years .296 batting average "lucky", as proven earlier in this post. So let's exclude 2010 and his career batting average becomes .265. I am going to see him as a .275 hitter. Since National Park's singles and doubles are below the 100 average, it would seem decent to think that his singles and doubles (and overall total hits) would go down after the transfer to the nation's capital.

Werth's home run totals should take a hit for sure.

As you read before, National Park's fly balls are 96 and home runs are 100. Citizens Bank Park is also 96 but, again, home runs are 120.

In a 162 game average from year to year, Werth has averaged 25 home runs. But it seems that he is more of  26 to 29 home run guy, despite his 36 homers in 2009.

But since Werth got un-lucky with his homers in 2010, it would seem more likely that he is capable of hitting 30+ homers in a year consistently since his fly rate has been on the rise since 2007. So with that said, he seems to be about a 30-34 home run threat...in Philly.

In D.C., it looks like he is a 25-28 home run guy and a .275 hitter with about 30 doubles.

I can't tell what he will do in perhaps year 3, 4, 5, or beyond in this enormous contract, but my projection for at least this year is as follows:

.275/.385/.495/.380, 25-30 home runs and 25+ doubles.

His 95 batting average-OBP point differential for his career should bode well for when he gets older.

(Statistics in courtesy of: baseball-reference.com, espn.com, fangraphs.com and statcorner.com)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Conversation: Adrian Gonzalez won't be AMAZING...but still awesome

By Mike Moritz

I am a big Yankee fan, as mentioned in previous posts but as my obsession for advanced baseball statistics has grown, I have learned to not forget the Red Sox and also hate everyone who is involved with the team, as I did in my elementary days. I am not just Yankee follower but rather an all around baseball follower and, yes, even the Red Sox I follow.

And when Adrian Gonzalez switched coasts from the Padres to the Red Sox in the trade that gave up three of Boston's top prospects, I was filled with excitement. I was dying to see how "Gonzo's" bat would react in the small outfield of Fenway Park. I mean, after all he put up gaudy power numbers in Petco Park for years. It is only decent to think that after hitting 24, 30, 36, 40, and 31 homers in order in the spacious San Diego, that he would explode for something like 50 home runs in a Boston uniform. He's 28 and in his prime. Some good signs pointing to 50 home runs...right?


I must say that Gonzalez is a very, very good player and one of my favorite, too. He is definitely one of the best in the game at the plate and can get the job done at first base. He has a sweet, simple and smooth swing in which he keeps his hands and bat in the strike zone for a very long time. That allows him to go the other way and up the middle just as much as he pulls the ball despite his open stance. Hittrackeronline.com shows how well he sprays his home runs all over the field:

Observe how Gonzo's homers all scatter amongst the field and how he has MORE home runs to left field then he does to right field.

So with that said, lets return to the ultimate question: Will Adrian Gonzalez hit 50 home runs?

Again, No.

Yes, he will become a consistent 40 homer threat but ESPN Park Factors says that 50 is a stretch. According to the Park Factors, Fenway Park was ranked 21st in home runs in the MLB and Petco Park was ranked 22nd, so there is essentially no difference between the two parks, as you can see.

Here is some good news though. When you saw the chart above, you can see that, again, he spreads his homers all around the field. And because of that, Gonzalez should get a lot of doubles in Fenway. Fenway Park was rated 2nd on ESPN Park Factors for doubles in 2010. I expect him to get his doubles off the Green Monster and in the triangle in center field while most of his home runs would probably be over the short fence in right field.

But he could possibly get off to a slow start in this upcoming season since he is switching from decent National League West to the all mighty American League East. That statement can be backed up by his slightly above average O-Swing% which was 31.8% last year. Mind you, that mark jumped from a slim 23.1% in 2009.

His walk rate also dropped from 17.5% to a still very good 13.4% and his ISO took a hit as well, dropping from .274 to, again, a still good .213.

For Gonzalez to succeed in the AL East, one of the more important things for him, and every player in the Major Leagues, is to maintain a high walk rate. When his walk rate drops, it will most likely be from the fact that he is swinging at "would be ball four pitches" and thus his O-Swing% rises. It would take a hit on almost every hitting category because he would not be as patient at the dish.

His ISO, on the other hand was due some pure un-luckiness. Check out his line drive, ground ball, fly ball rates and HR/FB ratio:


(Note: Gonzalez's HR/FB ratio had been rising for three straight seasons before 2010.)

Just like BABIP, HR/FB ratio acts as an "un-lucky or lucky indicator". When a player has a bad year, you should look at his line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates and then take a look at his HR/FB ratio (or BABIP) and if his three rates are around his career numbers with a low HR/FB ratio (or BABIP) then you know that he got un-lucky that season. And vise versa.

He smacked 31 homers in 2010 after hitting 40 in 2009. He seems to be a real 40 home run threat even though he is switching parks from Petco to Fenway.

But again, a slow start for him is a realistic thought and he could end up hitting 30 homers again, still a good number. And with the kind of OBP that he holds (.368 for his career), he can still be a very valuable player to the Red Sox even if he does not live up to his expectations.

After a stat line of .298/.393/.511/.378 with 31 homers, at the age of 28, he looks to be in a great situation in his career.

.275/.375/.500/.400, 25-30 home runs and over 40 doubles with a slow start, is what I think, but I could be way off. Gonzalez could go off and hit 45 homers but that is just my thought.

In the case that he does not get off to a slow start, I foresee a great season: .300/.410/.525/.430, 37-42 homers and 40+ doubles.

I know, it's a little absurd to predict a slow start from a player but I am going down a risky path to do it and I could end up looking really stupid. But if he does not get off to a slow start, then he will be extremely valuable.

Gonzalez is 28 and will turn 29 in May as he joins the Red Sox, arguably the new team to beat in the league.

Though I hate to say it.

P.S. Don't forget to vote on the Poll of the Week!

(Statistic in courtesy of: hittrackeronline.comfangraphs.com and espn.com)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Brief History on Sabermetrics Part I (Hitting)

By Simon Stracher

(NOTE: This is not all of the advanced stats we use in the blog and future posts will explain more).

After getting some responses from viewers that they did not now the stats I was using, I took it upon myself to give the definitions on Sabermetric terms and what Sabermetrics really means. So, without further ado, A Brief History on Sabermetrics.

Hitting Stats:

1. OPS (On-base plus slugging)- On-base plus slugging sounds like what it is: the sum of a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Many "saberists" do not like this stat because it does not weigh on-base percentage more than slugging, even though on-base has been proven to be twice as effective. Nevertheless, it is a good and easy stat to measure a hitter's contact, patience and power. This stat is much more common than others on the list.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)-2010 OPS Values

2. OPS+ (On-base plus slugging plus)- While not as well known as OPS, OPS+ is a much more effective tool to measure a players performance. It adjusts small variables such as park effect and the league in which a player plays in. 100 is league average, so therefore each point up or down is one percentage point above or below league average. It is still not entirely effective, because it weighs on-base percentage and and slugging percentage the same.

Context: Miguel Cabrera posted a 179 OPS+ last season (one of the highest) while Cesar Izturis posted an OPS+ of 50 last season (one of the lowest).

3. wOBA (Weighted on-base percentage)- Who do you think is a more effective hitter: Ichiro hitting .360 with the majority of his hits being singles, or Albert Pujols hitting .320 with the majority of his hits being extra base-hits. The answer is unequivocally Pujols, but according to batting average it is Ichiro. The simple fact is that not all hits are created equal. wOBA, unlike OPS and OPS+, weighs OBP more in its formula and is one of the most useful statistics out there today. It combines patience, power and contact, and weighs the most important ones the most, so we can truly see who are the great hitters in today's game.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)- wOBA is put on the same scale as OBP, so any score that would be a great OBP is also a great wOBA. League-average is typically around .330, although it varies from year to year.
2010 Values

4. wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average)- wRAA is based off wOBA, and attempts to calculate the number of runs a player calculates for his team each season. Zero is league-average, so a positive wRAA shows above-average performance, while a negative wRAA shows below-average performance. This is a "counting statistic" (like RBIs) so players gain more runs the more they play. Also, wRAA is league-adjusted, so it is easy to compare players from different leagues and even from different eras.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)

2010 wRAA Values

5. wRC (Weighted Runs Created)- wRC is a stat that attempts to measure how many runs a player is worth to his team a year (similar to wRAA). It is not my favorite statistic, but helps make my favorite statistic which is coming up next. Also, if wRC and wRAA sound the very similar, don't worry, you’re not going insane. The stats are very alike – they’re both based off wOBA and attempt to show offensive ability in runs – but wRAA is scaled with zero as league average, while wRC is not. For that reason, if you want to see offensive ability in runs, use wRAA.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)

2010 wRC Values

6. wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus)- In my opinion, if you want to be judging a player by his offensive performance only, and you had to pick one statistic, this would be the one I would pick. It is scaled to 100, like OPS+, and is based off wOBA, unlike OPS+, which makes it much more accurate. It measures all of the same things that wOBA does and on the correct weight, but is much easier to use because of how league average is 100 and always 100. Also, wRC+ is park and league adjusted, so you can compare players from different leagues, parks or even decades.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)

2010 wRC+ Values

7. ISO (Isolated Power)- ISO is the measure of a players power, or how good he is at hitting for extra bases. It is a relatively simple formula: SLG%-BA, which removes all of the singles that are accounted for in slugging percentage. I like this stat because it shows a hitter's true power and what you can expect from him in upcoming seasons (like if his doubles start becoming home-runs). Also, in order to project future ISO numbers, you should have a sample size of at least 600 PAs. If Brett Gardner has a .550 ISO after 50 PAs, don't take it too seriously.

Context: (from www.fangraphs.com)

2010 ISO Values

I'm sorry I didn't finish all of the hitting statistics, but I will post the rest of them in a day or two.

Mike Napoli is on the move...again

By Simon Stracher

After just five days in a Blue Jays uniform, 29 year-old catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, has been traded to the Texas Rangers for 31 year-old relief pitcher Frank Francisco. This comes as surprising news, as Napoli was traded five days ago. I can understand this trade for both sides, as the Blue Jays had lost setup man Scott Downs and closer Kevin Gregg. They needed relief pitching, and Francisco is one of the most underrated relief pitchers in the game. He has a 10.89 K/9 since 2008, which is second best in the game, and had a 3.12 FIP in 2010 and a 3.34 FIP in 2009. He also can close for the Blue Jays and had 25 saves in 2009. Anticipate a much better season for Francisco, as he had a .312 BABIP last year. Expect a 2.90 ERA, 75 strikeouts, and a 28 saves.

Napoli is also one of the most underrated players game, and has been shackled by Mike Scioscia and his Jeff Mathis love-fest. Napoli has hit over 20 home-runs the past three years, even with less than 450 at-bats every year. If Napoli was able to get regular at-bats, which was assumed after he was traded to the Blue Jays, he would easily be a top five catcher. But now, with his subsequent trade to the Rangers, Napoli might be in the same position he was with the Angels. The Rangers already have Yorvit Torrealba, and Taylor Teagarden. Expect 400 at-bats, 28 home-runs, 65 RBIs, and a .275 average. Good numbers, but not what he's capable of.

Who got the better end of this trade? In my humble opinion, I would say the Blue Jays. The reasoning behind this is that the Blue Jays already have top prospect J.P. Arencibia, number 48 on MLB.com's top 50 prospects, and reportedly the Rangers are sending a one million dollars to the Blue Jays. It seems like the Blue Jays wanted to save money, Francisco asked for $4,875,000 in arbitration and Texas offered $3.5 million, while Napoli made $3.6 million in 2010 and asked for $6.1 million and the Angels countered with $5.3 million. If both players win their cases, the Blue Jays would be saving roughly $2.3 million. Along with a dominant reliever, the Blue Jays are getting $2.3 million to spend on one of the eight draft picks that they have in the top 120. Even though Napoli is the better player, the Blue Jays thought ahead in this situation and will now have more money to spend on their draft class.

In the end, this trade is just a little better for the Blue Jays, but it could easily turn out to be a better for the Rangers if they can get Napoli can get enough at-bats. And now the Rangers have a versatile power hitter who can play first or catcher, or even DH. Napoli's projection will change if the Rangers trade Michael Young. Meanwhile, the Jays now have a very strong bullpen and could be a surprise contender ( a la the San Diego Padres). In a couple of weeks I will have my top ten catchers list for fantasy. Also, watch out for Francisco in Fantasy Baseball if you want a lot of cheap strikeouts and 20-25 saves. He could be a real steal and will come at a good price.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keep your eye on: Hunter Pence

His hitting mechanics are absolutely the wackiest I have ever seen but this 27 year old right fielder for the Houston Astros is a power-speed combo that has relatively flown under the radar for the past four seasons. Radar or not, this kid can rake.

Hunter Pence broke into the majors with a great rookie season: .322/.360/.539/.384 (wOBA) with a .217 ISO and 17 homers in 456 at bats. In Pence's second season in The Show, he posted a .269/.318/.466/.334 and a .197 ISO and 25 homers in 595 at bats experiencing a small step in production back but a solid season nonetheless.

Pence hit 25 long balls again in 2009 as he brought his average back up to a rock solid .282 and got his OBP to an above-average .346 while seeing his P/PA rise to 3.90 after 3.65 in his first two years. His walk rate also improved to an average 9%. He got rid of about 2% on his strike out rate as it went from 20.8% to a mark weighing in at just below the norm, 18.6%. Pence's UZR in 2008 was an astounding 12.3 and in 2009, it stayed about the same at 12.1. His overall WAR was a career best 4.1.

But in 2010, Pence once again took a step back. But this regression looked to be smaller than his previous one. For the third year in a row, he hit 25 dingers while cashing in his best strike out rate of his career at 17.1%. He even stole a career high 18 bases. The "step back" starts with his second lowest OBP and wOBA, .318 and .331, respectively. His ISO dropped to a still respectable .179.

But for three straight years after his awesome rookie year, Pence's line drive, ground ball, fly ball and HR/FB ratio have stayed very similar from year to year:


Talk about consistent, right?

There always tends to be speculation that players should have a breakout year following three or more of these kinds of seasons in which these kind of numbers are put up. Being 27 years old, what is not to love about Pence's current situation? He is in the middle of an arbitration process in which he will be getting a raise so that always helps. Again, he's 27 and has posted such consistent numbers and has already established him self as a great player who is also fantastic in the outfield.

He only had a negative Pitch Type Value against one pitch in 2010, the slider at -5.2. That being said, this is a good sign for a break out season at a break-out-prone-age, like 27. By being able to hit the majority of the pitches thrown at him, you have to think that pitchers just will not be able to avoid his bat.

Pence does not only hit well, but he is also a great fielder according to his 12.3 UZR and 12.1 in both 2008 and 2009. And although his UZR dropped to 3.0 in 2010, I believe that it was just a fluke and that it should be back to normal in the up and coming season.
This picture is definitely in contest with the Carl Pavano photo. What a crazy face. 

Then again, I could be wrong, says his below average 30.2% O-Swing and his rather slim 49 point OBP/AVG differential. Maybe he will turn into the next Lyle Overbay and just never have that big, bulky, career year. But honestly, I do not think that will happen. He is just in too good of a position and has too much talent for that to happen to him, in my opinion.

There is not much more to say. Just look out for him this year.

.300/.360/.500/.368 with 29 homers or more. I say about 32 dingers and maybe even 20 or more stolen bases. He might even have a 30-30 season but I think that is a little bit of stretch. It is definitely possible though and if not 30-30, he would still most likely put up big numbers. Hunter Pence is my guy to watch out for in the 2011 season.

By Mike Moritz

(Statistics in courtesy of: espn.com and fangraphs.com)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fantasy: 2011 Keeper Fantasy Baseball Hitter Rankings 6-10

Which of these two players made the cut? Read on to find out

By Simon Stracher

As promised, here are my 6-10 Keeper League Rankings, and if you haven't read my 1-5 rankings click here. Also, remember that these rankings are not final, and I will constantly be updating them as the season progresses.

6. Troy Tulowitzki- Tulo is young (26 years old) and plays shortstop, a position with not many viable starting options. Fangraphs has a great article on all the relevant Keeper League shortstops here. Also, in four seasons in the Major Leagues, Tulo has posted over a 5.4 WAR three times. He also seems to be progressing at a good rate, evidenced by this data table.
  • wRC+
    • 2008 - 82
    • 2009 - 135
    • 2010 – 150
  • wOBA
    • 2008 - .313
    • 2009 - .393
    • 2010 - .408
  • wRAA
    • 2008 - -5.4
    • 2009 – 33.4
    • 2010 – 37.1
  • OBP
    • 2008 - .332
    • 2009 - .377
    • 2010 - .381
  • Avg.
    • 2008 – .263
    • 2009 – .297
    • 2010 - .315
  • RBI
    • 2008 - 46
    • 2009 - 92
    • 2010 – 95
  • 2B
    • 2008 – 24
    • 2009 – 25
    • 2010 – 32
  • WAR
    • 2008 – .9
    • 2009 – 5.7
    • 2010 – 6.4
Tulowitzki has increased in every statistical category, and doesn't seem to be slowing down. The even better thing is, it's not artificial, as his career BABIP is .319 and he has had BABIPs of .316 and .327 in '09 and '10, respectively. My only main concern with him is his injury history (he has missed 112 games combined in the '08, '09, and '10 seasons). But, even with those injuries he has still been a top flight shortstop, and he has a chance to become better than Hanley if he can stay healthy. My prediction for 2011: 31 home-runs, 102 RBIs, a .297 average, and a .373 OBP. I'd expect him to get even better as the years go on, so consider yourself lucky if you get him at number six.

7. Robinson Cano- Ever since his ill-fated 2008 season, (.271 average, an 86 wRC+, and a WAR of .2) Cano has established himself as the best hitting second baseman in all of baseball, even better then Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia. In 2010, Cano had his best year to date in the Majors with a .319 batting average, 29 home-runs, a wRC+ of 145, and a WAR of 6.4. While Cano may not get you as many points as the other people on this list, you can lock him down for a top 15 ranking at the end of the year, and he has a great chance to finish higher. Cano, like Evan Longoria, is progressing at a slow, but steady rate, and I would not be surprised if he surpassed the numbers he put up last year. Expect 31 home-runs, a .320 to .330 average, 115 RBIs, and a OBP of .385. The OBP may seem high, but remember, Cano is no longer the free-swinging batter he was in the early part of his career. In 2010, his walk rate was 8.2%, almost double his 2009 %, and he had a OBP of .381. Cano is the best second baseman in the draft, and is entering his prime, so don't be afraid to pick him even earlier

8. Joey Votto- Votto
proved last year that he belonged in the discussion of best first baseman in the league, and it should have been no surprise after he posted a 158 wRC+ and 4.6 WAR in '09. He had his breakout season in 2010 with a .324 average, a .424 OBP, 37 home-runs, and a 177 wRC+. That line was good enough to win the NL MVP, and he certainly deserved it. But, there are three reasons why he isn't ranked higher; One; there is so much depth at first base, two; he isn't as established as the other people on this list and three; last year Votto had a BABIP of .361. That is bound to go down and will most likely result in a batting average near .300 (which is pretty good). Even with those three "problems" Votto easily makes it in the top ten and will be a very productive player for years to come.

9. Carlos Gonzalez- I know Gonzalez wasn't even in my top ten for regular league, which seems absurd considering how well he did last year, but I have my reasons. For one, he had a .384 BABIP last year (average is around .300) and two, this was his first full season so I am predicting some sort of a "sophomore slump". He will most likely go much earlier, considering how well he did last year and how he is only 25 years old. If you decide to take him early, don't expect to be contending for your league's title in 2011, as he production will fall off significantly. He makes it on to this list because of his age and the hope he can build off his 2010 season. For 2011, I project a .296 average, 28 home-runs, 95 RBIs, and a .347 OBP. Good numbers, but not what you would expect out of a top ten guy. They are also very similar to Nick Swisher's 2010 season. I am in no way saying that Swisher is of equal value to Gonzalez, but keep in mind that Swisher will likely go 7-8 rounds later than Gonzalez.

10. Ryan Zimmerman- If you don't know what WAR is, well, then you probably shouldn't be reading this blog. But if you do know what it is, you'll be in a big shock to learn that Zimmermann was 4th overall in WAR last year ahead of household names like Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez and many more. The only people who were ahead of him were (in order) Josh Hamilton (8.0), Joey Votto (7.4), and Albert Pujols (7.3). Zimmermann had a WAR of 7.2, barely behind Pujols and Votto. Zimmermann easily could have been the second best player in baseball last season, instead he had to settle for fourth (boo-hoo). Dave Cameron, the brilliant writer of U.S.S. Mariner and Fangraphs, has even called Zimmermann "the franchise player". Now Zimmerman has some lineup protection in Jayson Werth, which should benefit his RBIs and Runs scored. Zimmerman is easily the number two third baseman for 2011, and has a good shot at taking Evan Longoria's title as best third baseman in the game. Zimmerman at 10 is a great pick, and any owner should be happy with him at this position.

Notable Players Missing: Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and David Wright

All three of these players were ranked in the top ten of my Regular League Rankings, with Crawford being ranked number two, but I just couldn't put them in the top ten for Keeper Rankings, all for the same reason; they're too old. Now this may sound strange considering that they are all under 30, but I have my reasons. For one, Wright seems to be declining at a steady rate (highest K rates of his career in'09 and '10), and because of this, he may never get back to the levels of greatness he was at before his 2009 season. Gonzalez isn't in the top ten because it came down to him and Joey Votto, and Votto is one year younger and won the NL MVP in 2010. Crawford isn't in the top ten because he is 29 and relies so much on speed, within the next 3-4 years his steal numbers will most likely plateau and then decline drastically. The only players I can think of who kept their speed in their mid-thirties are Ichiro, Kenny Lofton, and Juan Pierre. Even if Crawford can somehow keep all of his speed, (very unlikely) there is even less of a chance that his hitting doesn't plummet within 3-4 years, considering he will soon be on the wrong side of 30, and almost every player goes through some sort of a decline after 30 (excluding steroid users). With this in mind, I just couldn't bring myself to place them in the top ten for Keeper Rankings. Better luck next year.