I didn’t love Alexei Ramirez going into last year. Still, he wasn’t really that bad, or at least not as bad you would think. Ramirez had a highly touted 136-game campaign in 2008 (21 HRs, 13 SBs and a .290 AVE). However, he was caught stealing nine times in 2008, which would give any team pause before sending him. Furthermore, he managed to post a paltry .317 OBP, which would further limit his SB upside. In 2009, his HRs (15) and average (.277) dropped. However his SBs (14) and OBP (.333) went up. While you’d think Ramirez had a bad year last year, it really wasn’t that much worse than 2008. You can continue to see some improvement this year, particularly in SB and HRs. However, he will be 29 in September, so he isn’t as young as you think.
Gordon Beckham only got into 103 games last year, but the 23-year-old more than held his own (14 HRs, .270 AVE, and a .347 OBP). It is wholly realistic to assume a 20 HR-10 SB season with useful ratios in 2010. Whatever position he ends up playing, he’ll be a stud for years to come.
Elvis Andrus, who will not turn 22 until late August, is even younger than Beckham. Nevertheless he played more games (145) last year than Beckham did. And, he more than held his own (72 runs, 33 SBs, a .267 AVE and a .329 OBP). While most youngsters fade down the stretch of their rookie seasons as they get fatigued and major league pitchers figure them out, Andrus had a far better second half than first. He posted a higher AVE (.279 vs. .262) and a higher OBP (.373 vs. .311). Those are the most important numbers when it comes to Andrus – if he can get on base, he’ll steal oodles and oodles of bases. There is tremendous upside with Andrus.
This is clearly a two thoroughbred race. I’m going with Andrus here. He is younger, and, as the saying goes, speed never slumps. Even when Andrus struggled to get on base, he stole bags when he got there. If Beckham struggles (which is unlikely), he wont hold as much value as Andrus will. Plus, if you can get great speed numbers from your shortstop you have a leg up on your competition.
Keep: Elvis Andrus
Trade: Gordon Beckham
Drop: Alexei Ramirez
Reading this column guarantees that you will achieve fabulous wealth and success in your fantasy baseball league. That’s right, you guessed it: it’s time to debate Keep Trade or Drop (KTD).
While there are tons of player rankings available, they are all for 2010 and nothing more. So, if you are drafting in a start-up keeper league, how do you decide who to take? For example, if they’re both on the board, do you go for tried and true Carl Crawford, or do you roll the dice (but only barely) and select the slightly less proven Justin Upton. Read enough of these columns and you might just get your answer.
The KTD series focuses solely on giving keeper league advice. It poses the question: if you are in a keeper league, which player would you rather keep, which would you rather trade and which would you be forced to drop. Rarely is the decision easy to make, but it might just decide whether you compete and win your championship, not just this year, but for years down the road as well. It will also help you make a snap decision when three similar players are on the board and the clock is ticking.