Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finding Keepers: Minnesota Twins

Question: Who was the top-rated fantasy player on the 2010 Minnesota Twins? Mauer? Morneau? Liriano? Capps? Cuddyer? Span? Pavano? Thome? Answer: None of the above.

OF Delmon Young was the Twins highest-ranked player on ESPN's Plater Rater, coming in at 56th overall, with a .298/77/21/112/5 line and even garnered some MVP love with a 10th place finish in the balloting and receiving as high as a fourth place vote. At just 24 years old, Young's potential is enticing enough to keep him on your team's roster for the 2011 season and hope for even better numbers to come.

C Joe Mauer continues to be the most productive catcher in baseball even though his home run total dropped significantly in 2010. Mauer has only reached double-digits in two season: 13 in 2006 and 28 in 2009. His career average for home runs per 162 games played is 16, which is fantastic for a catcher with a career batting average of .327. Lock him up as a keeper and enjoy being the envy of the owners that are struggling to draft between Chris Iannetta and Mike Napoli.

Is this the season that SP Francisco Liriano breaks out to become the fantasy baseball stud we all envisioned after his incredible 2006 season? Here are some encouraging stats that make me think so. In 2010, Liriano made a career high 31 starts covering 191.2 innings pitched and produced 14 wins. He stuck out 201, allowed 184 hits and only surrendered 9 homers. His 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP were both below his career averages for those stats. He's 2+ seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, still just 27 years old and plays for a team that wins ballgames. I see no reason why Liriano can't 16 or more games in 2011 and validate using a keeper selection on him.

It's a shame that a head injury put an early end to what was turning into an incredibly productive season for 1B Justin Morneau. In 81 games, Morneau accumulated a slash line of .345/.437/.618 with 18 HR, 56 RBI and 53 Runs. WOW! Here's hoping Morneau is able to return to the field of baseball with no ill effects from what can only be summed up as a horrific concussion.

Best of the rest but not keepers:
  • CL Matt Capps had a very good season as the closer for the Twins (5-3, 42 SV) as a replacement for the injured Joe Nathan but closers are very rarely going to be keepers unless your league utilizes stats like K/9 and K/BB. And a healthy Joe Nathan means Capps' role will be redefined unless traded to another team.
  • 1B/3B/OF Michael Cuddyer's value goes up by being eligible at three positions but his statistics are far from the elite at any of them. He'll be a very nice fantasy asset in the early to middle rounds but not a keeper.
  • OF Denard Span may have over 14,000 followers on Twitter and can steal nearly 30 bases but the Astros' Michael Bourn and White Sox' Juan Pierre can double those stolen base numbers and neither of those are definite keepers either.
So there's my fantasy assessment of the Twins roster as it stands today. Did I miss anyone or does your league go much deeper with keepers than the normal 50-60 league-wide? I'd love to hear from you if you are in a league like that heading into 2011. I'd also love to hear from Twins fans about how well or poorly I did with your team.

Click here if you're interested in seeing all of the other teams I've covered so far in my "Finding Keepers" series of articles. I hope first time visitors will take a little time to click around this site and see all of the things I accomplished in 2010 and what you have to look forward to (and more) in 2011. As a new blogger within the Yardbarker Network, I'm very encouraged by the exposure COSFBA is getting this offseason and extremely excited for what the new season of fantasy baseball has to offer us fans.


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