Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Yu Darvish For Cy Young?

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I have the second pick in a four-player keeper league. I kept David Price, Evan Longoria, Bryce Harper and Joe Mauer. Available players are Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Ben Zobrist, Edwin Encarnacion, Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, and James Shields. Should I go with another catcher in a two-catcher league and dominate catching or go elsewhere?

There’s no need to go for a catcher in this spot. With Mauer already on the team, catchers shouldn’t be on the radar in this spot and for a few rounds, unless there is tremendous value on one and that’s not the case here. It comes down to two players for me. I like Darvish a lot, and he’s my pick to win the American League Cy Young award in 2013. There’s still a chance he’s available in the next round, and I want to draft as much power as I can as early as possible. That is why I go with Encarnacion. Many experts say that Encarnacion won’t repeat what he did last season, a breakout campaign in which he batted .280 with 93 runs, 42 home runs, 110 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .941 OPS. While I don’t expect 40 home runs again, he will hit at least 30 homers. The power is legit and it wasn’t a surprise to see him put up such prolific numbers last year. Encarnacion always showed good power. He hit 26 home runs for the Reds in 2008. Injuries really affected him the next few seasons and poor defense at third base was a factor, too. He’s playing first base now, and also played a good portion of the season with Jose Bautista. The addition of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera at the top of the lineup make this a very good offensive team. Encarnacion also had a career best 13 percent walk rate in 2012. He hits a lot of fly balls in The Rogers Centre, a true hitter’s park. It just took some time for him to put it all together. Not sure who else is available because you might have left off some good outfielders, but of the players mentioned, I would select Encarnacion.

I was offered Todd Frazier, Carlos Santana and Ivan Nova for Pedro Alvarez. I wanted advice to see if the trade is worth it. If so, who to drop? I have Ryan Doumit, Albert Pujols, Dan Uggla, David Freese, Alcides Escobar, Jose Bautista, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, B.J. Upton, Anthony Rizzo, Kendrys Morales, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy, Pedro Alvarez, Johnny Cueto, Yovani Gallardo, Houston Street, Greg Holland, Brandon Morrow, C.J. Wilson, Wade Miley, Jose Veras, and Vinnie Pestano.

Usually, the person on the side acquiring three players is getting screwed; more players are being sent your way to make it seem like the quantity is better. In this case, it’s the opposite. Santana is one of the top catchers; he hit 27 home runs two years ago and hits in the middle of an improved lineup. Alvarez hits for power but a low average because he strikes out so often. Frazier had a very good season in 2012, batting .273 with 19 home runs and 67 RBI in 422 at-bats. He should eclipse 20 home runs. Nova actually showed improvement last season despite a 5.02 ERA; compare that to his 3.70 ERA in 2011. Nova improved his K/9 from 5.33 to 8.08 and cut his BB/9 from 3.10 to 2.96. Nova was hurt by a .331 BABIP and 1.48 HR/9 despite a 32.4 percent fly ball rate. Expect Nova to be better. I need some more information to really provide a good explanation of who to drop. This seems like a league where you start one catcher. If that’s the case I would look to trade Doumit. Pestano can be dropped since Chris Perez appears set for Opening Day. The second drop comes down to Murphy or Nova. That determination is based on the depth of the league and what is available on the waiver wire. The deal certainly makes you better.

In a 14-team 5×5 head-to-head keeper league using contracts, would you trade Robinson Cano (one year) and Joel Hanrahan (three years) for Stephen Strasburg (two years), Alex Gordon (two years) and Dan Uggla (one year)?

This is another heist. While you are downgrading at second base from Cano to Uggla, you need to give up something to make a trade involving quality players. I worry about Hanrahan losing his job in Boston. There are several good arms behind him, there is a lot of pressure when you play in Boston, and some players don’t respond well. Hanrahan has 76 saves over the past two seasons with the Pirates. He had 40 saves in 44 chances in 2011, when pitched 68 2/3 innings and allowed just 56 hits and one home run, while walking 16 and striking out a whopping 61 batters. He had a 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. That was the only season in which he showed such good control. Hanrahan had a 5.43 BB/9 and 1.21 HR/9 last season, and he had issues with walks when he was with the Nationals. Hanrahan had a 2.78 ERA in 2012, but his 4.28 xFIP shows he was much worse. Most will look and see that he saved 36 of 40 games and see success but there are some warning signs. Getting Strasburg is terrific. He’s an elite arm and should only put up better numbers as he throws more innings. Gordon is undervalued. He will hit for average, score runs, steal double-digit bases and the power will come back. After 23 home runs in 2011, he dipped to 14 last season; look for 20 home runs again in 2013. This is a good deal.

I lost Adam Eaton in a 10-team roto league at utility. Available are Cameron Maybin, Nick Markakis, Justin Ruggiano, Matt Carpenter and Dayan Viciedo. Who should I add?

Markakis, Maybin and Viciedo are all solid additions. It really depends on what category you need. Markakis can help all around, although, he doesn’t steal bases like he used to after just one stolen base in two attempts last season. After not living up to expectations for a couple of seasons, Markakis was having a good season before an injury cut his season short last year. He batted .298 with 59 runs, 13 home runs and 54 RBI in 420 at-bats. My guess is you drafted Eaton for speed. If that’s the case and stolen bases are your target, then Maybin is the best fit. He went 40-for-48 in 2011 and stole 26 bases in 33 attempts last season. If you want power, Viciedo is the pick. He had 25 home runs and 78 RBI in 2012, and plays in an excellent park for hitters.

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