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N.L. East Fantasy Preview

Ryan Zimmerman

This division is STACKED. Hell, the Phillies alone have enough starting pitchers to lead your team to glory, and no, that’s no exaggeration. Aside from that, there is an abundance of young hitters, some with 30+ HR potential. You know what? Just draft solely from the N.L. East and you actually might win your league. Ok, THAT was slight hyperbole.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies bring some notable players on offense who will be gone by the 3rd round. More importantly, they will put forth one of the most dominating starting rotations that we have ever seen.

Ryan Howard (1B)

One of the premiere HR and RBI men saw a slight dip in production with 31 HR and 108 RBI last season. But hey, if that is an off year, then I can’t wait for a bounce back season. The hitting was the same, but a notable improvement was his hitting against lefties where he churned out a .264 mark (.232 career). Howard was also a bit banged up with ankle injuries, but a healthy Howard is worth top dollar.

Chase Utley (2B)

A thumb injury led to only 115 games played and (obviously) poor production. He did have a great end to the year with a .323/5/22 September. Injuries over the past few seasons have some thinking he is in a decline, but fantasy’s best 2B has shown us that .290/30/100 is a lock when he is healthy.

Other Hitters

  • Jimmy Rollins (SS) – Several injuries led to 88 games played. A return to form will come with health. Power is in decline, but full season should yield 20-20. Also in final year of contract.
  • Shane Victorino (CF) –Stopped hitting righties (.235), but has plenty of speed and increasing power stroke.
  • Raul Ibanez (LF) – HR/F rate dropped from 21% to career average and yielded poor power. The lesson? No more 30 HR seasons on the horizon.

Roy Halladay (SP)

The N.L. Cy Young winner set a career high with 219 K’s. Oh, and the other numbers? The 21 wins, 2.44 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP? None of those were the best numbers of his career! That’s pretty scary stuff and now he will continue to feast on the N.L. East for another season. Halladay could be the first pitcher off draft boards.

Cliff Lee (SP)

Splitting time between Seattle and Texas, Lee’s win total (12) conceals his dominance. The former Cy Young winner posted a 3.18 ERA with 185 K’s and an utterly ridiculous 18 walks. Yeah, only 18 walks in 212 IP! High K’s, no walks and 200+ innings means Lee is as elite as you can get…except for Halladay.

Roy Oswalt (SP)

Left Houston and posted 7-1 record and 1.74 ERA in Philly. Oswalt had a resurgence in K’s with a 8.2 K/9, proving he still has the the stuff to punch out opposing batters. You’re drafting a reliable innings eater with good strikeout totals who is now a #3 starter. So good.

Cole Hamels (SP)

The youngest of the big four in this rotation, Hamels took another step towards greatness with career best 3.06 ERA and 211 K’s. Those injury concerns that plagued his early career should be gone now as Hamels put in 3rd straight season of 30+ starts.

Other Pitchers

  • Brad Lidge (RP) –Looked good in bounce back season, but injury concerns popping up already this spring and as evident by first half of last season (5.25 ERA), Lidge can easily come undone.

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta is headlined by a young gun in the rotation and future star in the lineup. Not to mention, an offseason trade for one the best power-hitting 2B and the presence of veteran hurlers will make you swooning over Atlanta in the draft room.

Jason Heyward (RF)

Let’s start with youth. Heyward’s rookie season was a success on some levels. He hit .277 with 18 HR and 72 RBI with 83 R and 11 SB. My favorite part was his 91 walks. With his patience, he should develop into a great hitter soon, but not just yet. While 2011 will be the next step forward, just don’t overpay.

Dan Uggla (2B)

Uggla has set himself apart from other men at his position by putting in his 4th straight season of 30+ HR. While he did switch teams, he will stay in the N.L. East, so production can’t drop too much. His .287 BA was much better than his usual hitting, so that should correct. Other than that, everything should remain the same.

Brian McCann (C)

One of the top catchers that will fly off the board, McCann is always a solid bet for 20+ home runs, but I will warn you that his BA is dropping every season. However, if you want your catcher to produce HR and RBI, then McCann is your backstop.

Other Hitters

  • Martin Prado (2B, 3B, LF) – Just a consistent .300 hitter at the top of a decent order. Plenty of runs scored and will add LF-eligibility.
  • Chipper Jones (3B) – Let it go. He’s done.
  • Freddie Freeman (1B) – Another youngster with future potential. Looks to start opening day; posted .319/.378/.521 in 124 AAA games in 2010.

Tim Hudson (SP)

At 35, Hudson posted the best ERA of his career with a mark of 2.83, so we will not reasonably expect an encore (especially with .249 BABIP). Low strikeout totals look scary, but absurd 64% GB rate will continue to produce good results.

Tommy Hanson (SP)

The kid settled down in the 2nd half with stellar 2.51 ERA in 100.1 IP after break. He had to exchange strikeouts for groundballsto do it, but it was worth it. He’ll be only 24 at the start of season and with a full season under his belt, Hanson is poised for a repeat, if not the next big step.

Other Pitchers

  • Derek Lowe (SP) –Him and Hudson are just groundball machines. 59% GB rate is great, but he needs to keep free passes down to stay effective.
  • Jair Jurrjens (SP) – Slew of injuries limited him to 20 starts, but I am not a fan anyway. Mediocre strikeouts, poor K/BB, and lucky .268 BABIP in ’09 are red flags for me.
  • Craig Kimbrel (RP) – Small sample size shouldn’t get us too excited, but 4-0, 0.44 ERA and 17.1 K/9 in 20.2 IP has our mouths watering.

Florida Marlins

The Marlins offer up fantasy’s most coveted shortstop and one of the most hyped power prospects of the past decade. Throw in a legitimate ace starter for any team, and we have the recipe for fantasy gold.

Hanley Ramirez (SS)

As much as I love the guy, there are certain obvious factors we need to observe. The power is in a slow decline as HR totals continue to slide and RBI totals not as abundant. He will still steal 30 bases and hit .300, which makes him great value at SS.

Mike Stanton (RF)

The hype around this kid is through the roof. Made impressive debut with .259/22 HR/59 RBI in 100 games and all experts agree that he is poised for monster season. Explosive September (.316/8/19) is a good sign of things to come in 2011. When every publication says he will hit 30+ home runs, then it’s hard to find reasons to not believe hype.

Other Hitters

Do you really want to draft Chris Coghlan, Omar Infante, or Logan Morrison? Yeah, didn’t think so. Stick to the big two above.

Josh Johnson (SP)

One of baseball elite starters, Johnson’s 9.1 K/9 and 2.30 ERA last season are indicators of his talent. He was shut down at the end of last season with back troubles, so some will worry about possible health issues. However, two straight dominant seasons should have you drafting Johnson among the best starters.

Anibal Sanchez (SP)

He put together his first noteworthy season since his ’06 no-hitter and results were very promising. 13 wins and 3.55 ERA were good and he even increased his strikeout rate in the 2nd half of 2010. Only concern is health (big concern), but skills are there.

Other Pitchers

  • Ricky Nolasco (SP) –Had better 2nd half with better K/9. Nolasco’s good strikeout numbers and superb K/BB were evened out by 24 HR allowed. He just needs to cut down the longballs (see Scott Baker).
  • Javier Vazquez (SP) –Another year in the Bronx yielded another disastrous season. He simply can’t play in New York. I smell a nice rebound season, but his terrible 1.9 K/BB last season raises concerns.

New York Mets

The NY Mets are my favorite squadron. The Mets are a team of names and not necessarily talent. The Carlos Beltrans and Jason Bays have seen better times while the David Wrights are still worthy of your time. As for pitchers, their best starter might end up missing the entire season, so yeah, this is quite the team of question marks.

David Wright (3B)

Still one of the best 3B in this game, Wright rebounded from a terrible ’09 to put up his typical numbers .283/29/103. Citi Field wasn’t too much of a problem as he had near identical splits at home and on the road. The BA is on the downside, but the power, RBI, and SB are still in the skill set.

Jason Bay (LF)

Well, that was a disappointment. Bay had the worst season of his career even before a concussion in July ended his 2010 campaign. Just 6 HR and a .259 avg. If concussion recovery goes well, then it can’t get any worse…can it?

Jose Reyes (SS)

A big name shortstop, Reyes suffered through oblique injuries in the 2nd half of last season, but still hit .293 after the break and swiped 30 bases in 133 games. If he maintains health, the he is a decent hitter with high stolen base totals at a shallow position.

Other Hitters

  • Carlos Beltran (LF, CF) – Two straight seasons of knee problems and declining speed. Stay away.
  • Ike Davis (1B) – The kid has decent pop to his bat, but his high strikeout totals will prevent him from making next step in BA.

R.A. Dickey (SP)

Knuckleballers are unpredictable, but Dickey was able to confuse opposing batters to the tune of a career best 2.84 ERA. Dickey loved Citi Field (1.99 ERA) and he induced a lot of grounders, so continued success is not a crazy concept. Just don’t expect a repeat.

Francisco Rodriguez (RP)

An elite closer, K-Rod had a great bounce back year from his less than stellar ’09 season with 25 saves and 2.20 ERA. Legal issues cut season short in August, but that won’t be an issue this season, so grab one of fantasy’s best closers if you can.

Other Pitchers

  • Johan Santana (SP) – Recovery going slower than expected and could miss up until July…or more
  • Mike Pelfrey (SP) –Imploded in 2nd half to look like the Pelfrey of old. Don’t pay for repeat.
  • Jonathan Niese (SP) –Hamstring injury slowed breakout season. Provides good GB% and good strikeouts rate, so if healthy, he’s a nice sleeper pick.

Washington Nationals

Washington is relatively unimportant, especially now with Stephen Strasburg out for 2011 due to recovery from Tommy John surgery. Aside from a few gems on offense, you’ll want to stay away from our nation’s capital when it comes to pitching.

Ryan Zimmerman (3B)

A young stud at 3B, Zimmerman is increasing in skill every season. Don’t worry about the loss of Adam Dunn because Zim’ was a great hitter before Dunn’s arrival. A solid 25-30 HR and 90 RBI with a .290 BA is quite the find at 3B.

Jayson Werth (CF, RF)

Werth, despite signing a huge contract in the offseason, still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He is an under the radar power and speed threat who has flashed 30-20 potential in the past. Two straight seasons of .500+ SLG and his .919 OPS last season point to power and OBP elite. The only thing I won’t count on is his .296 BA coming back, bet on .270 range.

Other Hitters

  • Adam LaRoche (1B) – You can’t deny consistency in game. Expect the 25 HR and 85-100 RBI.
  • Nyjer Morgan (CF, RF) – Another case of don’t overpay for one category. Bank on 30+ SB and nothing else.
  • Mike Morse (RF) –.289/15/41 in 266 AB’s; could be a decent filler for your team if maintains pop to his bat.


Oh, why can’t Stephen Strasburg stay healthy? I would use this space to crown Strasburg as the next fantasy ace, but Tommy John surgery will put that on hold for at least the 2011 season.

So we are stuck with Livan Hernandez at the top of the rotation. Aside from the 1997 World Series MVP, the Nationals will trot out a few middle of the road starters. Jordan Zimmerman is the most promising, but he is still a risk due to recovery from Tommy John Surgery from which he returned from last August.

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