2010 All-Comeback Team
It’s no secret that drafting proven players while their
value is low is one of the keys to building a championship team. Every season,
there are plenty of guys who, despite boasting solid big league track records,
are undervalued on draft day due to either health concerns or poor performance
the previous year. Owners should never be afraid to take a chance on these
players so long as the price is right. Now presenting the 2010 All-Comeback Team.
Geovany Soto Cubs
One of the
biggest busts of 2009, Soto redeemed himself in a huge way this season, looking
a lot more like the player who took home Rookie of the Year honors in ’08. The
Cubs backstop got off to a red hot start, batting .340 in April, and finished
2010 with a very solid line of .280-17-53. Although his streaky ways can be
frustrating, Soto is a safe bet for quality power numbers at a thin position
and is arguably a top-5 fantasy catcher heading into 2011. In other words,
don’t expect to draft him at a bargain this time around.
Aubrey Huff Giants
never know what you’re going to get from Huff from year to year. Maybe all he
needed was the excitement of playing for a postseason-contending team. Maybe
all he needed was the motivation of playing for a new contract. Whatever the
reason, Huff enjoyed one of his finest seasons to date. The first-year
Giant sported a career-best .385 on-base percentage and surpassed the 25-home run mark for just the second time in the last six seasons.
Having gone undrafted in the majority of mixed leagues following an awful 2009
campaign, Huff easily outperformed a number of mid-round first basemen,
including Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena. Go figure. Considering
Huff’s inconsistent track record, be careful not to overvalue him on draft day
Rickie Weeks Brewers
talent, has always been the question with Weeks, but in 2010 it wasn’t an
issue at all. Although Weeks doesn’t quite fit under the “established track
record” category, he had shown flashes of stardom before. The problem was that
he had yet to play more than 129 games in a season. Well, the 28-year-old
second baseman was finally injury-free and proved exactly why he was such a
highly regarded prospect, batting .269 with 29 homers, 83 RBIs, 112 runs scored
and 11 steals in 160 games. Look, there’s little doubt the guy can put up
strong numbers, but the number that will always matter most for Weeks is the
one under the column labeled “G”.
SS Jose Reyes
drafts this past spring, nobody epitomized the term “high-risk high-reward”
much like Reyes, the former top-5 overall pick who was limited to just 36 games
in 2009 due to a myriad of leg injuries. Spending a fifth round pick on the
Mets’ speedster would either prove to be a huge steal (no pun intended) or a
huge waste. Turns out that fifth round is about where Reyes will go next year,
and I’d be more than glad to take him in that spot. While the days of 60-plus
steals are probably over, Jose remains a safe bet for 30-35 steals to go along
with double-digit homers and a solid average…and that’s a conservative
projection. Sure, he remains a health risk, but how many other shortstops can
offer that type of production?
Adrian Beltre Red Sox
What a wise
decision by Beltre to sign a one-year deal with Boston coming off the worst
season of his career both performance-wise and health-wise. With the Red Sox,
the veteran third baseman would get the chance to restore his stock in hopes of
inking a lucrative long-term contract at year’s end. The plan worked to
perfection. Aided by a far superior supporting lineup than the one he had in Seattle, Beltre eclipsed the 100-RBI plateau for the first time since 2004. Oh yeah, then there’s
the 28 homers and gaudy .321 average through 154 games. Beltre’s a career .275
hitter, so a considerable drop-off in the average department can be expected in
2011. That said, aside from 2009, Adrian
has been one of the more consistent options at the hot corner over the past
decade. For owners willing to wait until the mid-rounds to draft their third
baseman, Beltre will make for a fine choice.
Rios White Sox
cannot describe how poorly Rios performed following his trade to the Windy City
last August, so I’ll try to explain it through numbers. In 41 games, he batted
.199 with three homers, nine RBIs, 11 runs scored and a .530 OPS. We can now
safely call his entire 2009 season, in which he hit just .247, an aberration.
In 147 games this year, Rios batted .284 with 21 homers, 88 RBIs, 89
runs scored and 34 steals. While the chances are slim of Rios ever living up to
the 30-plus home run hype that came with his callup to the big leagues, he’s
established himself as a steady five-category contributor. Continue to think of
him as an annual 20/20 threat and expect an average in the .280-.290 range.
Corey Hart Brewers
a value pick, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than Hart. Fresh
off an injury-plagued 2009 campaign, the 28-year-old’s fantasy stock plummeted
as he went from top-25 outfielder to late-round flier. Remember, this is the
same guy who strung together two consecutive 20/20 seasons from 2007-2008.
Forgetting about him proved to be a huge mistake. While Hart’s speed all
but disappeared (just seven steals in 145 games), he took a huge step
forward in the power department, posting career highs in homers, RBIs and runs.
Owners who bought low on Hart deserve a round of applause.
Wells Blue Jays
bad year, good year, bad year. This has been the story of Wells’ career. By
now, most fantasy GMs are tired of riding the Wells roller-coaster, but in 2010
the ride was a rather smooth one. The talented Toronto outfielder enjoyed just his second 30-home
run season in seven years and his .515 slugging percentage was his highest
since 2006. That said, I personally will not be targeting the inconsistent Wells
in drafts next spring. Roller-coasters are not my thing.
Cole Hamels Phillies
Series MVP hangover, hidden injury? Whatever it was, Hamels just wasn’t himself
in ’09, looking nothing like the dominant ace who carried the Phillies to their
first title in 28 years. This is exactly why it’s never a good idea to
overvalue starting pitching on draft day. Even the upper-tier guys are
unpredictable from season to season. On the other hand, it is a good idea to
draft ace-caliber pitchers at a discount. Hamels rewarded his clever owners
with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP to go
along with 211 strikeouts in 33 starts. Greinke in the 3rd
round or Hamels in the 10th? Back in March, the decision was tough.
Now, it’s easy.
Brad Lidge Phillies
We were all
scared to death to draft Lidge this year, and for good reason. His 2009
performance was, plain and simple, the worst 31-save season ever. The fact that
the club for the most part stuck with him defied all common sense. I hate to
use clichés but I’ll say it anyway: what a difference a year makes! While he is
far from the lights out closer who went a perfect 41-for-41 back in ’08, Lidge
has re-established himself as a solid mid-tier fantasy stopper, sporting a 2.96
ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 50 appearances. He’ll still have those dreadful outings
from time to time, but I don’t anticipate another dreadful season.