(For the second time in COSFBA's short history, an article is being presented to you by someone other than me. I've recently been in contact with some writers that have shown interest in possible guest writing opportunities, so you may see a few more in the near future. This post was written by Joe Tetreault, a fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member and accomplished writer/blogger. Enjoy his take on a "Finding Keepers" article.)
Josh Hamilton is a feel good story, and the reigning AL MVP. His outstanding .359/.411/.633 slash line signals the offensive prowess that Hamilton brings to the plate. But he's entering his age 30 season and injuries have chewed up chunks of his last two seasons. They weren't enough to derail his MVP quest, but as year end approached and Miguel Cabrera chased his numbers down, plenty called for the award to go to Detroit's troubled slugger instead of Texas'. And like Cabrera, no caveat list is complete without alluding to the troubles that Hamilton had with drugs when he was a minor-leaguer. They seem to be in the past, but the worry of relapse should be taken seriously when considering Hamilton as a keeper.
Legitimate keepers are much harder to find. One can make a case for Nelson Cruz, but age (he'll be 29 this year) and his own set of persistent injuries diminish the credibility of that recommendation. Julio Borbon and Mitch Moreland are younger lads, but their track records reflect their youth. Borbon was barely replacement level in 2010, so he's not worth the keep. Moreland didn't make it to 50 games played in 2010, so his solid batting line screams small sample size.
That leaves two players who have both youth and an established track record of success available. The first is even more appealing because he plays the most challenging position on the defensive spectrum. That's Elvis Andrus. And he'll be but 22 during the coming season. He doesn't bring the power, with just 49 career extra base hits in his two full seasons. But he's swiped 65 bases in that same stretch of time and he's reasonable enough at getting on base that he'll pile up runs. In short, he's a great table setter at a typically difficult to fill fantasy position. Draft him. Keep him. Be Happy.
Like Andrus, the Rangers other keeper of renown started his pro career as a Brave and was part of the bounty the Rangers won for Mark Teixeira. But Neftali Feliz is not a defensive wiz afield. He's not a Ruthian figure at the plate. He's a flamethrower of some skill who's actually undervalued this year because no one really knows what the Rangers are poised to do with him. Will he continue to close or is his destiny in the rotation. His greater value to the club is likely as a starter, but unless he becomes a front of the rotation star, his fantasy value is tied to the saves and strikeouts he racks up along with a miniscule ERA and WHIP. He's only 23, so nabbing him now amid the uncertainty may be the steal of your draft.
Deeper keepers can look to the Rangers farm system for another treat. Lefty starter Martin Perez made it to AA Frisco as an 18 year old in 2009. He stumbled there at 19 but still struck out more than a batter an inning while playing very young for the league. He's a possible September call up, so if you can grab him later in the year and keep him long term, your patience will surely be rewarded.
Joe Tetreault covers the intersection of baseball and business for the Biz of Baseball, and a variety of topics at his own blog TetreaultVision. You can also follow him on twitter.