The 2011 fantasy baseball season is just a couple of months away, which means it’s time to start readily preparing for the upcoming drafts. Which players will have their stock affected by injury? Will there be intriguing fantasy baseball sleepers to keep in mind? Let’s take a look at some fantasy baseball news as the season approaches.
Joey Votto signs three year extension with the Cincinnati Reds
The reigning NL MVP and one time All-Star has been rewarded by the Cincinnati Reds with a new three year deal worth $38 million. This three year deal is good news for Votto as well as fantasy owners. Over the past three years he has continued to improve as a player, before having his breakout year last year. In 2008, he hit .284 with 24 HRs, 84 RBIs, and 69 runs scored. Then in 2009 he improved his batting average, seeing a jump of almost 50 points to .322 with 25 HRs, 84 RBIs and 82 runs scored. This past season was by far his best and he seemed to put everything together and became a complete hitter. He was able to keep a strong batting average at .324 but saw a jump in his power numbers where he hit 37 HRs, 113 RBIs and 106 runs scored. He even showed some speed on the base path by stealing 16 bases.
Last season, the Cincinnati Reds had their first playoff appearance since 1995 and it was because they have put together a young but talented team that should be competing for the NL Central title for years to come. Joey Votto has some help in the batting lineup that includes outfielders Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs, as well as second basemen Brandon Phillips. Votto should continue to be one of the top first basemen in fantasy baseball because of the players around him. Jay Bruce, in his third season, showed major improvements in batting average and RBIs. I expect next season to see an increase in the power numbers (HRs and RBIs) as he becomes more comfortable at the major league level. Drew Stubbs will be entering his second full season in centerfield for the Reds and should benefit greatly from hitting in front of Votto and Bruce. He should be in the top of the league in runs scored as well as stolen bases as long as he can improve his batting average.
The biggest benefit of Joey Votto signing the extension is that he will be playing all his home games at the Great American Ballpark which is considered one of the top hitters’ ballparks in the majors. Now if you are in a keeper league and had Joey Votto last year, there is no reason not to keep him for this coming season but to expect another MVP season might be a little unrealistic. If you are in a redraft league, I would consider him a first round pick and I would plan on getting in between 28-35 HRs, over 100 RBIs and around a .320 batting average from Votto.
Johan Santana allowed to start throwing program
In the past week Johan Santana has been told he can start a throwing program to try and strengthen his shoulder after having surgery back in September to repair a torn anterior capsule. Before he went down with the surgery Santana was 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA and 144 strikeouts. In 29 starts he also had 4 complete games and 2 shutouts. Santana was not expected to be ready for the start of the season and the time table for his return is somewhere in June or July. However, the fact that he has been the given the go ahead to start throwing now is a good sign that he possibly might be able to return sooner. The question is whether Santana will be able to return to his 2008 form when he went 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA.
Ever since he joined the Mets in 2008, his numbers have steadily decreased. His win totals have dropped from 16 to 13 to 11 last season. His ERA has gone from 2.53 in 2008 to 3.13 in 2009 to 2.98 in 2010. Lastly, his strikeouts have dropped from 206 in 2008 to 146 in 2009 to 144 in 2010. With his stats continuing to drop and now that he has had surgery on his throwing shoulder, it is tough to say what type of pitcher he might be in 2011. I see no problem with taking a flyer on him in one of the last rounds and storing him on your bench until he returns but drafting him any sooner would be risky as there are pitchers in the latter rounds that will contribute all season.
Ryan Rayburn signs two year deal with the Detroit Tigers
Ryan Rayburn is one of my top candidates for break-out player in 2011. The 29 year old has had trouble finding playing time over the past few years but has played well the second half of the last two years. Last season after the All-Star break he hit .315 with 13 HRs and 46 RBIs. It will be important to pay attention as we get closer to the start of the season to see how Jim Leyland will set his lineup for the season. Victor Martinez is expected to be the primary designated hitter for the Tigers so that leaves Brennan Boesch, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Rayburn for two starting outfielder positions. My guess at this point in the offseason is that Brennan Boesch will be the odd-man out and Ordonez and Rayburn will be the starting outfielders, along with Austin Jackson in center.
If Rayburn is able to secure a starting spot and hold onto it for the whole season, which I expect he will, I think he could be a steal in the later rounds. I would expect him to have in between 20-25 HRs, around 100 RBIs and a batting average in the neighborhood of .300. He will also be protected in a batting lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Austin Jackson. Usually with the later rounds, I will target players who have shown the potential to have breakout years and if he can put up the stats I expect this coming season he will be a great late round steal.
Tags: 2010 MLB prediction, 2011 baseball news, 2011 fantasy baseball, 2011 fantasy baseball news, cincinnati reds, detroit tigers, Fantasy Baseball News, fantasy news, joey votto contract extension, johan santana, johan santana injury news, johan santana shoulder surgery, mlb, mlb arbitration, new york mets, ryan rayburn