Due to popular demand, The Bad Guy is back for the 2009 MLB season (cue my entrance music). I'll be bringing you a fantasy relevant preview for every team, starting with the AL and finishing up with the NL. Each preview will feature studs, sleepers, busts and all kinds of other information that is sure to give you a (Razor's) edge up on the competition.
First up - The Baltimore Orioles.
While the Orioles don't really bring much to the table in terms of contending for a World Series title, they do feature a bunch of guys that are fantasy relevant. OF Nick Markakis and 2B Brian Roberts are both fantasy studs that are sure to be taken in the 3rd or 4th round of your drafts. Veteran 1B Aubrey Huff finished with a monster line last season - 96 R, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 4 SB, and a .304 average but still doesn't get much love from fantasy owners. C Matt Wieters is the talk of the fantasy town, even though there's a good chance he won't be on the opening day roster. SP Jeremy Guthrie is the only Baltimore pitcher worth talking about, and even he really wont be able to help you out all that much.
OF Nick Markakis has become a name fantasy owners have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years, especially after his breakout 2007 season - 97 R, 23 HR, 112 RBI, 18 SB, and .300 average. He was drafted real early last season, but was considered somewhat of a disappointment after hitting three less homers, 25 less RBI, and stealing eight less bases then he did the previous season. However, after seeing his BB totals go up again for a 3rd straight season (43 in '06, 61 in '07 and 99 in '08) , Markakis seems ready to finally take his game to the next level. The 18 steals might not be there, but if he can snag 10 bases again while scoring 100 runs, hitting 25-28 HR, and getting back up to 100 RBI, all while hitting .300 +, there should be plenty of happy Markakis owners at the end of the season.
2B Brian Roberts is a name Cubs fans are familiar with, as he was heavily rumored to be coming over to the North side last season before talks fell through. If you take a look at his stats over the past three seasons, you'll see that the 5'9'' speedster is as consistent as they come - You know you're getting 100+ runs, 10 HRs, 55 RBI, 40-50 steals, and a .290+ average. There is still a chance that Roberts is traded before opening day, as he and the Orioles have had a hard time agreeing to terms on the four year deal that the 2B covets. If anything, a trade to another ballclub would only increase Roberts' value.
We at NQTC witnessed many miraculous comebacks in 2008 - Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Kurt Warner - but there was no greater comeback then the comeback of 1B Aubrey Huff. The former stud put up some sick numbers back in 2003 and 2004 when he was with Tampa Bay, but was a complete afterthought from 2005-2007. However in 2008, Huff was back to his old 90 run, 30 HR, 100 RBI, .300+ average ways. At 32, he still has plenty left in the tank and because he isn't fantasy sexy, Huff tends to drop real late in drafts. If you miss out on the big names early on, you could do a lot worse then to take a chance on tough Aubrey Huff.
C Matt Wieters is the sleeper of all sleepers - there isn't one fantasy site out there that has yet to write about this guy. Wieters is not expected to be up in the bigs by opening day, but should be called up by mid-June at the latest, and if his minor league stats are any indication, should be raking at the next level in no time. The catcher position is fairly deep this year, so you shouldn't reach for him over the big names (unless you're in a keeper league). According to RotoAuthority.com, Wieters is currently being drafted in the 11th round of drafts, which is more or less where you want to target him.
SP Jeremy Guthrie doesn't really deserve this paragraph, but the O's pitching staff is so weak that he's simply all there is to talk about. Guthrie is decent in terms of ERA and Whip, but he doesn't get wins and he doesn't strike anyone out. I really wouldn't target him until real late, if it all, in your drafts - I'm talking like the 23rd/24th round in 12 team leagues. The O's bullpen is also a mess - I highly doubt any one player gets more then 10-15 saves on this team. When all is said and done, I would highly recommend staying away from any Baltimore pitcher on draft day.
Next up on Wednesday - The Boston Red Sox....