As noted previously, Ben Zobrist is all over the KTDs and my rankings. Part of me thinks it is because of his awesome (nick)name. Another part of me thinks it is because I went to pick him up in my deep 20-team expert league, but instead went with Micah Hoffpauir. That was a poor decision.
Ben Zobrist produced when he finally got into games in 2008. Playing full-time in September/October, he hit five HRs in 20 games, while batting .321. Sure that is a small sample size, but it stuck in a lot of people’s minds. Still, his 2009 was crazy good (27 HRs, .297 AVE, .405 OBP) and unlikely to be replicated. Zobrist was a .318 hitter in the minors (.301 in three AAA seasons), so it is possible he could be a .300 hitter. I’m more comfortable relying on him to be a .275 – .280 hitter. In addition, I think his HRs will come down a bit. Even so, he could be a 20-17 player, which has good value at second base.
Asdrubal Cabrera had a pretty successful 2010, even though it didn’t receive much fanfare. He hit .308, posted a .361 OBP, scored 81 runs and stole 17 bases. This was all for a team that was clearly out of it and missing its best hitters by the dog days. While Cabrera won’t help you in HRs, he should be a steady 90 – 100 run scorer, 60+ RBI producer and 12+ base stealer. He’ll also add some healthy ratios. While he isn’t altogether sexy, he is a few years off his prime and should be a steady fantasy baseball contributor for at least the next seven years.
Aaron Hill is another middle infielder you likely got late in drafts, cheap at auctions or off the free agent scrap heap. The best $1 I ever spent was on him in that 20-team league I mentioned. Hill will be 28 in March (he is eight days younger than me), which means he is in the midst of his prime. And what a prime year 2009 was: 103 runs, 36 HRs, 108 RBIs and a .286 AVE. Those numbers are not wholly surprising, given that he hit 17 HRs in 2007 when he was 25. Still, 36 HRs might be his high watermark. I never advise paying for career years until they are replicated. Still, he’ll be a very good second basemen for at least a couple of years.
If you can get power from the middle infield it gives you a lot of flexibility in the outfield, making it more palatable to start players like Michael Bourn or Nyjer Morgan who give you great speed numbers, but little else. For that reason alone, I’m stick with Hill, slightly over Cabrera. Cabrera is a steady guy, but Hill can put up top five power numbers at second base. That is simply too much to pass on, even though he is about three years older. What’s more, Hill is in the midst of his prime, which means he should provide steady valuable production for two – three years.
Keep: Aaron Hill
Trade: Ben Zobrist
Drop: Asdrubal Cabrera
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.