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World Series of Fantasy
Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:01amBy Tim Heaney
Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals
His dual positional eligibility, on the surface, justifies taking a chance that Berkman will carry over his 2011 revival. If you can use him in multiple spots, you can live with a little bit of regression from a year when restored health and mobility gave us a vintage Fat Elvis. His full-time shift to first base should, in theory, keep him healthy.
Berkman's limberness allowed him to get his bat around on fastballs much better than he did in 2010, which led to harder and more consistent contact along with the rediscovery of the 30-homer power he has owned for the longest time.
Below that feel-good story, though, hide risks for a downfall, even at a price already fixed at a perceivably acceptable rate by skeptics. He bolstered his rebound on his ability to mash outside-the-zone offerings. What if he has trouble reaching them this year? A drop-off in bat speed ain't a stretch for a 36-year-old. A sideline trip of at least 10 games is etched in Sharpie, and the already distinct possibility for even more DL days heightens as his age advances.
The Cards also lost some guy named Albert Pujols, who was on the pond often when pitchers faced Berkamn, who just as frequently saw great pitches to hit. Carlos Beltran is no slouch, but he's no Pujols. Plus, Berkman has a restored rep, so how many gimmes will he get?
A season of 20 homers and a helpful BA remains in play, but why pay what could be a premium to obtain it from a 36-year-old coming off one of his career campaigns and not a younger, healthier option that offers something similar? Big Puma doesn't boast much upside unless doubt makes him dirt-cheap. His lowered floor is much more palpable. -THOvervalued
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
In an admirable rookie campaign, Freeman grew into his power in the middle of the season. His homer spray chart backs up his all-fields approach can go deep, as well. Freeman wants to fly even higher and more often; he added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason. Sometimes, extra mass helps. On occasion, it corrupts a swing.
You can't write off a case of the latter here. His batting average profile is unstable. He laces pitches often but doesn't make much contact; can he cut down the K's? Packing more bulk on top of a swing that's already weak versus southpaws and probably carries a few more holes might hurt his ability to extend during his swing on a consistent basis.
The 22-year-old's components will eventually produce a dangerous player, but they are not yet developed to the level that you should expect immediate improvement on 2011. He should post an RBI total somewhere in the 80s with is prime lineup spot. He'll probably sit in the low 20s in taters, though, for at least another year while his other peripherals gel.
He's a helpful player, but don't target those stats for your starting mixed 1B spot. Early perception says there's a value gulf between Freeman and other midrange-with-upside first sackers like Ike Davis, Paul Goldschmidt and Adam Lind. On the surface, he's safer than them, but not to the extent of overpayment. -TH