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March 20, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

Projections for Blalock, Kinsler, Wilkerson, Mench, Dellucci

277/.340/.485, 90 runs, 29 homers, 95 RBI, 3 steals

In 2005, Blalock endured a second-half slump, didn’t hit lefties and didn’t hit on the road. That’s nothing new. What is new is that he didn’t had the ferocious first-half that made his overall stats so valuable in previous years. He’s still just 25, and I expect a partial return to form in 2006. He should be a solid third baseman, if not an elite one. Texas might rest him occasionally, particularly against lefties, but he is impervious to injury and will amass at least 150 games. If you draft Blalock, put out trade feelers if he starts the season hot.

.254/.305/.405, 65 runs, 13 homers, 60 RBI, 10 steals

Alfonso Soriano’s replacement has batted well enough in Spring Training to secure the second base job. He batted .274/.348/.464 in AAA last season. Kinsler might have a fantasy-worthy season, but he doesn’t merit selection in any of ESPN’s mixed leagues. Rookies almost never make capable fantasy players, and a slow start could cost him at-bats to Mark DeRosa or even a demotion to AAA. That’s not a risk worth taking. Even with the depressingly thin field of 2Bs in AL-only leagues, he justifies only a late-round pick.

.254/.360/.465, 105 runs, 23 homers, 70 RBI, 10 steals

Though I base my projections on a self-designed spreadsheet that serves me well, I wonder if Wilkerson could really do something special this season. He won’t hit for average, even in Arlington, but the short right-field porch could prop his homer total well above the 23 I’ve projected. He probably will bat first, and the leadoff position for Texas is some prime real estate. He achieved 660 plate appearances last season despite a litany of minor injuries. Wilkerson doesn’t rank among the top 200 players drafted in ESPN’s mixed leagues, but he should, and his owners should be pleased with him by season’s end.

.285/.345/.505, 75 runs, 27 homers, 75 RBI, 3 steals

Mench has yet to provide the breakout season that would make him a fantasy star. He tantalizes with his power, but he always seems to be fighting through an injury or losing at-bats to guys like Gary Matthews. Last year, he batted a dire .185 with runners in scoring position. That’s actually good news for you, his potential owner, because your rivals will probably downgrade him on the basis of a fluky performance that is highly unlikely to reoccur. As with Wilkerson, I see more upside than downside in the stats projected above. Mench should be a solid if unspectacular mixed-league outfielder..

.246/.355/.465, 85 runs, 23 homers, 65 RBI, 5 steals

Last year, Dellucci rode a near-Bondsian walk rate and unexpected power to a career season at age 31. Much of his offensive value comes in walks, so he contributes less to a 5x5 fantasy team than in real life. Also, he tends to wear down and never starts against lefties, so he’s not worth drafting in all but the largest of mixed leagues. In AL-only leagues, Dellucci can be an especially valuable addition to an active owner who pays attention to Texas’s opposing pitchers.

Posted by Lucas at March 20, 2006 11:54 PM