Isn’t this a bizarre keep, trade drop? Bossman Junior was a second round fantasy pick not too long ago. Last year, Josh Hamilton was a borderline first rounder. Dexter Fowler didn’t see his first consistent MLB action until last season.
What to make of BJ Upton? He is still relatively young (wont be 26 until August). He is a career .266 hitter, with a .352 OBP. Last year, he posted his lowest batting average (.241) and an incredibly low OBP (.313). Nevertheless, he did manage to swipe 40+ bases for the second straight year. The thing to love about Upton, and why he has more potential value than a Nyjer Morgan or Michael Bourn, is his perceived ability to hit 25+ HRs. He hit 24 in 2007, yet hasn’t approached that number since (nine in 2008, 11 in 2009). Sure he has been injured and had that miraculous HR run in the 2008 post-season, but the pop has disappeared. Until that power comes back, the only upside he has is of a 60 SB guy. I think that is a possibility for next season, especially if he can get his average back to the .270 range and post at least a .350 OBP (his OBP in 2007: .386, 2008: .383). So, Upton seems like a very good base stealer with some power upside. There is still a lot to like here in the 25-year-old.
I never liked Josh Hamilton as much as others last year. Still, I thought he was a top 30 player or so. Hamilton was injured last year, which should account for his drop in batting average (career: .292, 2009: .268) and slugging percentage (career: .508, 2009: .426). So, if healthy, he should be able to approach 30 HRs with nice ratios. However, the key is “if healthy.” Hamilton has two unhealthy seasons to one healthy season – that’s not the track record you should be willing to bank on. What’s more, Hamilton will be 29 in May – so he is closer to exiting his prime then entering it. I’d take Upton over him at the moment.
Dexter Fowler is an interesting comparison. You’d think he is much younger than Upton, yet he’ll be 24 in March. He also stole fewer bases (27) than Upton in only nine fewer games. Furthermore, Fowler doesn’t have the power upside of Upton – Fowler only swatted four HRs last year.
I really thought this would be more of a debate between Upton and Fowler. However, I’d roll the dice with Upton every time. Even in a down year, Upton will likely steal as many or more bags and will hit for more power. While I’d rather keep Fowler over Hamilton, I believe Hamilton has more value on the open market, which is why I’m trading him. If someone offered me Fowler for Hamilton straight up in a keeper league, I’d grab the young Rockie.
Keep: BJ Upton
Trade: Josh Hamilton
Drop: Dexter Fowler
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.