Ending the season on a good note can certainly be a nice sign of things to come for a fantasy baseball player. Looking at 2010’s action from September on, nobody was hotter than Troy Tulowitzki who jacked 15 HRs in 30 games, had a .451 ISO and a 1.120 OPS. That’s just pure craziness. But, he’s obviously on your radar already depending on where you pick in the first round. Looking at some of the other hot finishers from that same time, there are quite a few names who stand out as possible standouts in 2011.
Pedro Alvarez – I’m a big fan of former top prospects who haven’t broken out quite yet because their ceiling is always so high. Pedro fits that bill. He started slow after being called up but then broke through and hit .306 with 6 HR, 10 doubles and 27 RBI in the final 29 games. That’s a great sign for his chance of being an impact player in 2011. I guess you could say that I’m going to *dramatic pause* vote for Pedro in 2011.
Shin-Soo Choo – While hidden away in Cleveland, Choo’s put together some very nice fantasy seasons the past two years. He did a lot of his damage at the end in 2011 where he hit .340 with 7 HR and 27 RBI while stealing 7 SBs over the last month. He’s certainly not undervalued in 2011 drafts but should have a solid 20/20 season with a .300 batting average again.
Nelson Cruz – He fought off injuries in 2011 but is still a monster when he’s at the plate. In his final month of regular season ball, he jacked 6 HRs with a .330 average. Then in 16 playoff games, he hit 6 more HRs with a .317 average. So he had quite a stretch of baseball from September through October with 12 HRs over 45 games. If those postseason games were in his regular season, he would have had 28 HR with 17 SB and a .317 average over 124 games. The main issue with Cruz is health as he’s never played more than 128 games in a season. If you invest in him, get a reliable backup.
Curtis Granderson – Grandy’s first season as a Yankee was fairly underwhelming until he finally got a bit of momentum in September where he hit 9 HR over his last 29 regular season games. In his 9 playoff games, he hit very well too with a .357 average (dwarfing his regular season average of .247). A nice rebound season should be in order. Expect a .280 average with 25 HR, 15 SB and a fair amount of runs and RBIs in that lineup.
Kila Ka-aihue – I’ll echo most of the things I said about Pedro Alvarez as Kila was a nice prospect who started slow and then had a nice finish to the season. His last month wasn’t quite as good as Pedro but a .261 average with 6 HR was certainly a step in the right direction. However, he was never quite a top prospect like Pedro nor should he be as highly regarded in 2011.
Jed Lowrie – Lowrie did not get much time on the field until the final month of the season but he played well in that time. He batted .292 with 9 HR, 10 doubles and 28 runs over the final 45 games of the season. I already mentioned him in my deep sleeper post but his value will truly lie with how much opportunity he is given and Marco Scutaro still stands in his way.
Buster Posey – You know about Buster by now. His playoff performance wasn’t exactly a hot finish but his 8 HRs in the final month of the regular season surely helped catapult this team into the playoffs. The ceiling is high for this kid.
Mike Stanton – I’ll gush over Stanton in future posts throughout the upcoming months but, for now, I’ll just reiterate most of the things I said about Pedro Alvarez in saying that this kid is a top prospect that hasn’t yet broke into the mainstream consciousness and he hit .312 with 8 HR and 20 RBI in the final month of the season. Plus, it’s amazing that he resurrected his career from a washed up pitcher to a future stud outfielder. Oh wait, nevermind.
Drew Stubbs – Stubby hit 22 HR and stole 30 bags but is not getting a ton of respect in fantasy drafts yet (196.62 ADP). That possibly could be because of his sluggish batting average. But, in the last month of the season, he hit .316 with 7 HR and 6 SB. So, yeah, I don’t get why he’s being disrespected as I would gladly invest in him in 2011 and expect a slight rise in average even based on his final month.
Vernon Wells – He finished like he started with 9 HRs in the final month of the season. He had a rough stretch in the middle of the season but showed a lot of potential at the start and end there. His ceiling isn’t as high as it once was but he should have a respectable 2011 season with nearly 30 HRs again (though not much else).