Ian Stewart’s 2008 season left fantasy owners begging for full time ABs – over only 81 games/266 ABs, Stewart socked ten HRs. Well, he got those ABs in 2009 and didn’t disappoint much in the power department (25 HRs). His ratios, however, left him almost completely unusable (.228 AVE, .322 OBP). Luckily, those dismal numbers are completely outside his minor league trajectory (six seasons: .293 AVE, .374 OBP). Furthermore, though BAbip isn’t as great a determinant for hitters as it is for pitchers, Stewart’s wildly diverging numbers in 2008 and 2009 warrant at least a glance. In 2009, his BABIP was just .270; in 2008, it was .362. Though far from exact science, this, at least, suggests he is capable of having a few more balls in play drop this coming season. To me, Stewart has the capability to be a .260 hitter with a .350 OBP. I think those numbers are readily attainable. If he gets there, 30 HRs and 90 runs/RBIs should well be within reach. I would love taking a chance on Stewart late in drafts. He is still a young guy and won’t be 25 until April.
Martin Prado will get the starting job for the first time in his career as Kelly Johnson was shown the door in the offseason. In 868 major league at bats, Prado has posted a .307 average and .360 OBP. He won’t provide much pop (12 – 15 HRs at most), but he’ll be reliable and won’t hurt you. Over his first four seasons, Prado has posted 162-game averages of 68 runs, nine HRs and 59 RBIs. Over his first four seasons, Placido Polanco posted 162-game averages of 71 runs, five HRs and 44 RBIs, while batting .299 and posting a .335 OBP. Polanco was a very serviceable middle-infielder. Prado will be quite similar.
Chris Davis is the poster child for small sample sizes. In 2008, in 80 games, Davis hit .285 and blasted 17 HRs. However, he also struck out 88 times (more than one a game) and posted a .351 BAbip. In 2009, the strike-outs continued (150 in 113 games) but the BAbip was worse (.324). This culminated in a horrible average (.238), which made his 21 HRs all but useless. There is a silver lining: Davis tore up the minors in 2009 and performed well (.318 AVE) in September and October when he was called back up to the majors. Of course, his BAbip was a tad out of control (.385).
Stewart will be 25 in April. Prado will be 27 in October. Davis will be 24 on March 17.
While Prado will be a useful Polanco-esque player for a few years, he doesn’t really belong in this conversation as the other two players have tremendous upside.
Even though Davis has a year on Stewart, I’m keeping the Rockie. With the glut of talent at corner spots the Rangers have, Davis might be shipped out, plus he hasn’t really figured out how to not strike out.
Keep: Ian Stewart
Trade: Chris Davis
Drop: Martin Prado
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.