By Jim Higgins
Before the 2010 season began, I ran a series of posts naming one possible keeper candidate from each MLB team. Some of these guys were more obvious than others, but then again, some teams have a lot more talent than others. In the interest of full disclosure, I have decided to recap my calls to see if any of the guys I mentioned actually panned out.
Kris Medlen – SP – Atlanta
Medlen looked like one of my better calls from the NL until he injured his elbow midseason and now needs the dreaded Tommy John surgery. I would bet Medlen will pick up in 2012 where he left off in 2010, but there is no reason to hold on to him at this point.
Chris Volstad – SP – Florida
Volstad is a guy with talent – too bad he hasn’t brought any of it to the majors yet. The former first round pick in 2005 seems to have settled in as a replacement level pitcher and has no keeper potential. He may be a decent add to fill in an empty roster spot but nothing more.
Ike Davis – 1B – New York
He didn’t spend much time in the minors in his first full pro season and once he got to the majors, he locked down the starting job right away. He may not improve much upon the numbers he posted as a rookie, but considering he is still worth holding on to if you got him cheap before last year. Consider him a young Adam LaRoche and keep accordingly.
Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia
Ruiz didn’t set the world on fire but anyone willing to take a gamble on rostering him was rewarded with a .302 BA, 43 runs and 53 RBIs – not bad for a C that went undrafted in a lot of leagues. Does that mean those numbers are worth keeping? Probably not, unless you are barren at C. And if that’s the case, you could do a lot worse than Ruiz.
Justin Maxwell – OF – Washington
There were a couple of breakout performances from Washington OFs last year, unfortunately Maxwell wasn’t one of them. Maxwell got 104 ABs in the majors and did absolutely nothing with them. Combine that with solid play of Josh Willingham and Roger Bernadina and Maxwell has almost zero fantasy value.
Geovany Soto – C – Chicago
Soto was having a bounce back season until injury cut his season short. Hopefully now that Lou Piniella is gone, Soto will quit losing so much playing time to Koyie Hill and continue to regain fantasy value. In leagues with larger keeper rosters I would advise holding on to Soto if you can, and if you can’t, try trading him to an owner with a need at C.
Jay Bruce – OF – Cincinnati
Given a decent amount of ABs, not only did we see Bruce continue to launch HRs out of the Reds bandbox of a stadium, but we actually saw him put up a decent BA as well. Now, if Bruce can continue to maintain the gains he experienced in BA and OBP, he should continue to be one of the rising stars of keeper leagues.
Bud Norris – SP – Houston
Norris continues to display skills that tantalize (9.3 K/9, 2H GB% of 45%) but as Yoda would say, “control, control, he must learn control.” If Norris can get his walks down from the 4.5 BB/9 he issued last year and continue to increase his GB%, we could be looking at a future keeper league stud. For now, look at other options but continue to keep him on your radar.
Mat Gamel – 3B – Milwaukee
As long as Casey McGehee is in town, Gamel continues to wait for an opportunity. It’s just too bad he exhausted his rookie status in 2010, otherwise he would still be worth stashing on an MiLB or reserve roster. If he’s eligible to remain reserved, I would hold out for one more season. If not, it’s time to cut bait and free up a keeper slot.
Jeff Clement – 1B – Pittsburgh
Probably my worst preseason call (and there were some bad ones). Clement seemed to finally have the perfect scenario for finally breaking out, playing for the woeful Pirates, but as he did in Seattle, he failed to live up to his first round hype. Clement only received 144 ABs, finishing with a .201 BA, 7 HR and 12 RBI – not the type of results you want to be wasting a keeper slot on.
Colby Rasmus – OF – St. Louis
He may be at odds with his real manager, but you don’t need to be at odds over whether you should keep him. With 23 HR, 12 SB and a .276 BA, Rasmus is the type of multi-stat performer every owner could use. Rasmus had a nice growth season in 2010, and if he continues to grow in 2011 and beyond (he will only be 24 next year), he could turn out to be one of the best OFs in fantasy baseball, regardless of where he plays.
Conor Jackson – 1B/OF – Arizona
I was hopeful that the breakout season Jackson looked like he was going to have in 2009 would carry over to 2010, but it never did. The power has vanished, the stolen base opportunities have dried up and the .280-.300 BA is no where in site. Throw in the fact that Jackson now plays in Oakland and there is a good chance most of these numbers don’t return. Maybe an extra year of recovery will do him some good but I wouldn’t bank on it at this point.
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – Colorado
For as bad as the Clement call was, the CarGo call was probably my best call of 2010. Finishing third in the MVP voting, CarGo hit 34 HR, stole 26 bases and put up a .336 BA – probably helping many fantasy owners win leagues in the process. I don’t know if I would expect that type of production from CarGo again but it is possible he has many more 20/20 seasons in him, and that is definitely worth holding on to.
James McDonald – SP – Los Angeles
McDonald struggled out of the gate, failing to make the team in spring training and failing to earn a call up to the majors until after he was traded to the Pirates. Once in Pittsburgh, he put up a respectable 3.52 ERA and 8.6 K/9 but he needs to show some consistency before he earns keeper status. Continue to monitor his progress and if he continues to pitch well early, don’t be afraid to grab him as a potential keeper for 2012 and beyond.
Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego
What Headley failed to display in power, he made up for in early season SBs. He still hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he garnered as a prospect but now that he’s back at his natural position, he seems to be geting closer to getting there. I wouldn’t hold on to him based on his 2010 numbers but if he suddenly develops some power to go with his unexpected speed, he could become a useful fantasy player.
Nate Schierholtz – OF – San Francisco
Like with Washington, I was right in predicting a breakout performance in the Giants OF, I just guessed the wrong guy. Schierholtz had limited ABs and didn’t do a whole lot with them, so I wouldn’t expect anything different anytime soon.
That’s it for the recaps – as you can see it was a mixed bag in terms of finding potential keepers but hopefully you were able to snag at least one or two of the good ones. I’ll definitely do this again for 2011 and hopefully, this time I will find more gems than duds.