Dear Mr. Fantasy: Finding Value

Baseball is almost here, and for those of us that cannot get enough of the game that means fantasy baseball is almost here as well. While it is only January, I argue it is never too early to start preparing for your fantasy baseball draft or auction.

This being a Chicago Website, I would be remiss if I did not take a look at what Cubs and White Sox players would fit nicely into a fantasy baseball roster. I will assume a 12-team 23-man starting roster, mixed league.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a fantasy expert by any means. But, I do perform well in leagues, so take that for what it’s worth.

Let’s start with the White Sox.

Who would want any White Sox player on their team? Well, for starters, US Cellular is a home-run hitters’ paradise, so the pale hosed power hitters should not be dismissed so quickly.

Dayan Viciedo
Now that Carlos Quentin is out of the picture, the door of opportunity has swung wide open for the 23-year-old Cuban.

When it comes to the majors, this kid is green. Putting all your fantasy eggs in his proverbial basket would be unwise. However, despite the small sample size, there are a few trends that are looking positive for the youngster.

In 2010, Viciedo had 104 ABs with a 8% BB/K rate! I’m sure all Sox fans remember that season when he drew 2 walks and struck out 23.6% of the time.

In 2011, he had 102 ABs with much better plate discipline. His BB/K ratio skyrocketed to 39% while maintaining a respectable 76.5% contact rate.

With the increase in plate discipline, however, we saw his home-runs-per-fly-ball rate drop from 16% to 4% and his ground ball rate increase from 42% to 58%, not a good trend.

However, Viciedo is only 23. He will figure out his swing. The power and run-producing abilities are most definitely there.

Projected to put up a double digit year in fantasy value, it is likely you can get Dayan for much less than that at your auction or draft. If you need an extra OF, Viciedo may just end up giving you great value if you can get him cheap. Look for a max potential of 20 HRs, 270 BA, and about 60 RBIs. A risky play, but if you can get him for a couple bucks, he may be worth it to stash on your bench until he produces, especially in keeper leagues.

Now lets look at the Cubs.

Chris Volstad
“You’re kidding, right?” is the question I’m sure just popped in your head when you read that name. Why on earth would anyone want to draft a guy who finished the season 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA whose fantasy value finished in the red?

That’s a good question.

First of all, I hate the “wins” stat, so I typically don’t pay attention to W/L. The stat has more to do with the defense behind the pitcher and the pitcher’s offense than anything.

While it’s true he had a 4.89 ERA, his xERA was 3.69; implying that improvement is coming. To prove this, let’s take a look at some of his skill stats.

The 25 year old improved his ground ball percentage from 48% to 52% in 2011, which is stellar. 48% is good, but 52% is great. This means he should get a lot of people out. His fly ball rate was 28% in 2011, which is good, but he was unlucky in that 16% of his fly balls were home runs, thus inflating his ERA. That percentage is really high and not typical, thus that HR/F number should decrease along with his ERA.

In addition, Volstad, in 2011, significantly improved his K/9, BB/9, and K/BB rates. His K/9 increased from 5.2 to 6.4: a huge increase; his K/BB increased from 1.7 to 2.4: another huge increase; and his BB/9 dropped from 3.1 to 2.7.

Everything indicates that Volstad is on his way to a pretty good year. However, watch out for his major weakness: facing lefties. And if your league counts wins, you’re not going to get too many W’s out of him because of the Cubs’ offense and youth in the infield behind him.

In your auction, you can probably get Volstad for $1, in a draft, you can likely get him late. If you need a 5th – 7th starter and are looking for value or a potential sleeper, you may want to have a look at Volstad.

Hey, if he’s good enough for Theo Epstein, he’s good enough for you.

All statistics in this article were researched at either or

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