quasi in rem

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The heart of the matter

There is no greater indication of the ability of a lineup to score runs than to examine the collective abilities of the 3-4-5 spots in an order. Typically, even if a lineup, like the Yankees, for example, has strength through out, that strength will be tempered if the 3-4-5 slots are not consistently strong. This is not always the rule, if a lineup like the 2001 Seattle Mariners has a number of near 400 OBP guys they can still score runs and lots of them. But from a pure points perspective in a points league you are looking for runs and RBI's. Those simply are not available without multiple hitters in the lineup. Individual performance is almost secondary.

Take David Ortiz for example. His OPS goes up modestly from .840 to .960. A 15% increase. But his other numbers skyrocket. His runs go up 50% and RBI's 33%. So team production is important and for team production you look to the 3-4-5's. These batters get proportionate more meaningful at bats than any other position in the line-up, and in fantasy terms, this stacks up over the course of a season. So let's rank them..

1. NY Yankees:
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Gary Sheffield, RF

This is a monster threesome. Arod was of course the first player walked to pitch the Griffey Jr. in the late 90's. Now pitchers will have to pitch around him to get to Giambi and then pitch around Giambi to get to Sheffield. This is dependent on Shef's thumb of course. But even if you replace Sheff with Posada or Bernie this is still a mammoth order and I would still put them #1. They should get 120 homers.

2. Red Sox:
Manny Ramirez, LF
Nomar Garciaparra, SS
David Ortiz, DH

Nomar actually had a better season than Arod did last year shockingly in terms of total points. Manny is Manny and always solid. Ortiz will not be playing full time and depending on who spells him this group should put the Sox in line for a ton of runs.

3. Angels:
Vladimir Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, CF
Tim Salmon, DH

Incredi-Vlad, steady Garret, and aging but powerful Tim. These guys are poised to pound the ball this year. Vlad swings at everything and with Garret and Salmon behind him he should have a lot to swing at.

4. Toronto Blue Jays:
Vernon Wells, CF
Carlos Delgado, 1B
Eric Hinske, 3B

Wells is fantastic and Delgado had quite a comeback last year. Hinske slumped and was injured invariably or these guys might be higher. Hinske also tended to hit a lot of doubles. But for his weakness these guys could be number 2.

5. St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols, 1B
Jim Edmonds, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B

Pujols is the best offensive player in the game. Edmonds and Rolen tend to strike out too much though thereby giving pitchers some leeway in not pitching to him.

6. Colorado Rockies
Todd Helton, 1B
Larry Walker, RF
Preston Wilson, CF

If they played every game at Coors, this threesome would be number 1. Walker will miss 40 games and Wilson will strike out 160 times. Despite all that they produce like the brewery itself.

7. Philadelphia Phillies
Bobby Abreu, RF
Jim Thome, 1B
Pat Burrell, LF

Burrell dissappointed mightily last year. a preseason favorite for MVp he did nothing. If he comes back strong this could be a top 3 run producing squad.

8. Houston Astros
Jeff Bagwell, 1B
Lance Berkman, LF
Jeff Kent, 2B

Bagwell and Kent are getting old and Berkman is getting fat. Nice thing about him though is that there was never any hint of steroid use. You have to like there chances in that ball park though.

9. Chicago Cubs
Sammy Sosa, RF
Moises Alou, LF
Derrek Lee, 1B

I hate to say this, but I don't think Sammy is going to hit 30 home runs this season. Lee is on the rise and if alou stays healthy all season then they will hit. Alou won't hit in April, but stay patient.

10. Orioles:
Miguel Tejada, SS
Rafael Palmeiro, 1B
Javy Lopez, C

The new and improved Orioles! With Rafi returning to the middle of the line up of the O's and carrying his stiff wood, these guys should return some life to the inner harbor. Injuries could capsize this crew. but in front of Palmeiro and Lopez, Tejada could compete on even ground with Arod and Garciaparra for offensive numbers.

11. Cinncinnatti Reds
Ken Griffey, Jr., CF
Sean Casey, 1B
Austin Kearns, LF

Can Junior get off the schnide? Can Kearns continue to mash. Why is a singles hiiter batting cleanup?

12. Atlanta Braves
Chipper Jones, LF
Andruw Jones, CF
J.D. Drew, RF

J.D. is good for 120 games. Andruw strikes out too much. Still there is talent here and they will continue to produce runs.

13. Seattle Mariners:
Edgar Martinez, DH
Bret Boone, 2B
John Olerud, 1B

Edgar and Olerud are old and Booey is off the juice. In this last season for the trio things may end by august.

14. White Sox:
Frank Thomas, DH
Magglio Ordonez, LF
Carlos Lee, LF

This is all the Magglio vote. Thomas and Carlos simply cannot be counted on consistently.

15. Arizona Diamondbacks
Luis Gonzalez, LF
Richie Sexson, 1B
Alex Cintron, SS

Alex Cintron hitting 5th? Embarassing.

16. Kansas City:
Mike Sweeney, 1B
Juan Gonzalez, RF
Joe Randa, 3B

I think these guys are already on the DL. It has been so long since Juan Gone was good its hard to even remember any more what it was like.

17.San Diego Padres
Brian Giles, RF
Phil Nevin, 1B
Ryan Klesko, LF

Nevin has already hurt his shoulder.Giles should florish in the Southern California sun surfing with Ryan.

18. Oakland A's
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jermaine Dye, RF
Erubiel Durazo, DH

This is an entirely hit or miss threesome. These guys are such streak hitters that they could all go for weeks without getting a hit.Scary.

19.Texas Rangers:
Hank Blalock, 3B
Brad Fullmer, DH
Mark Teixeira, 1B

This one is a shot in the dark. By losing both Arod and Palmeiro the Rangers lost the heart of their order and none of these guys have ever played this important a role before. Blalock could go in the dumper again, as could Texiera. This placement has as much to do with the ballpark as the players themselves.

20.Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Rocco Baldelli, CF
Aubrey Huff, DH
Jose Cruz, Jr., RF

Huff had a great year last year, quietly. Baldelli and Cruz could combine for 350 K's and 30 walks.

21.New York Mets
Mike Piazza, C
Cliff Floyd, LF
Mike Cameron, CF

Can piazza come back? This might be your last chance to get Piazza at catcher.

22. Los Angeles Dodgers
Shawn Green, 1B
Juan Encarnacion, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3B

I don't think Beltre will ever be good. Beltre marks the 7th 3B to find a place in the heart of the lineup. There are only 3 shortstops with Arod moving out.. Juan Encarnacion has a nice variety of talents but nothing that would suit him for hitting cleanup in Dodger stadium. Look for another dismal offensive year from the men in blue.

23. San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds, RF
Edgardo Alfonzo, 3B
Marquis Grissom, CF

8 3'bs. Although, I can't even remember the last time anyone had Alfonzo or Grissom in their fantasy line up for more than two weeks. Bonds could miss significant time this year because, well, you know, with the juice, and the flavin.

24. Florida Marlins
Miguel Cabrera, RF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jeff Conine, LF

9 3B's. Where did all these offensive 3B's come from. And Lowell was the best statisically last year, except for Arod,? The real question is who is Miguel Cabrera? 20 year old kid who had a pretty good year last year. Wouldn't crack the Yankee or Red Sox Roster, but pretty good.

25. Detroit Tigers:
Bobby Higginson, RF
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Dmitri Young, DH

This one is completely bogus by the way. These guys will hit 3-4-5 probably about 10 games this season. One of them will be injured the other 152 games or crazy or moved. But if these guys are all hitting together, they are not the worst in the league. Close.

26. Cleveland Indians:
Jody Gerut, RF
Milton Bradley, CF
Travis Hafner, DH

Milton actually can mash. If he keeps his head screwed on he might be worth it as a fourth OF. these other guys...ugh.

27.Minnesota Twins:
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B
Corey Koskie, 3B
Torii Hunter, CF

10 3B's hitting either 3-4-5! The lesson is this I think. There are lots of good third basemen in the league. If you don't get Arod, then get Lowell, or Rolen, or Chavez, then there is Hinske and Blalock, Randa, Coskie, Beltre or even Alfonzo. There is some quality throughout the draft, so focus on something else and pick up the guy who falls two rouns too far.

28. Milwaukee Brewers
Junior Spivey, 2B
Geoff Jenkins, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B

This is probably a tad low for these guys who can play. They can also strike out. And pull hammies. But they can play.

29.Montreal Expos
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Carl Everett, CF
Nick Johnson, 1B

Is there anything sadder than anchoring your line up to Carl Everett? The poor guy is going to go psycho in Montreal.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Jason Kendall, C
Raul Mondesi, RF
Randall Simon, 1B

Wait we have an answer! The one thing more depressing than having to rely on Carl Everett as your cleanup hitter would be having to rely on Raul Mondesi. If I were you I would say as far away as possible from any offensive Pirate this year. They may not crack 500 runs.

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