Of all the different varieties of fantasy baseball (rotisserie, points leagues, head to head, stock market, etc.) one thing is for sure-- keeper leagues are gaining in popularity.
If you are in a league or are going to be in a league that implements a keeper rule, it means that all owners are allowed and sometimes even required to "protect" a particular number of players from the previous year's roster. The number of players protected can vary depending on your league's rules.
Although there are leagues that allow owners to keep only one player, there are others that allow their owners to keep their entire roster ("Dynasty Leagues"). However, most leagues settle on protecting ten players, give or take.
If you are currently in a keeper league and trying to assess your roster and decide who to keep, know this.
When selecting your keepers, know that there are players that are "no-
brainers." These are players that are not only capable of, but known for, posting numbers that help you to dominate multiple categories. A contact hitter, capable of clearing the bases with one mighty swing of his bat only innings after swiping his twentieth steal of the season, is the kind of player that falls into this category.
This group could also include a starting pitcher who routinely shuts out his competition while getting double-digit strikeouts with regularity. Here are a few no-brainers: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Alfonso Soriano.
Once you have identified the two or three no-brainers on your roster, you should then list those you can depend on to be most productive or those that you are most dependent upon to deliver in particular categories. These are players that put up solid seasons year after year and can be counted on to produce comparably in 2006.
Some of the most dependable players out there are players like Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Carlos Delgado, Mariano Rivera, and Ichiro Suzuki.
Once you have gotten this far in the deliberation, risk starts to creep in. The remaining players on your roster are players you have not already protected for one reason or another. These are probably the players that fall under the category of "high-risk/ high-reward."
Although one of your players may be a highly-touted young stud with an infinite ceiling, capable of single-handedly propelling you to the top of your league's standings, he could also fall far short of expectations and the hype surrounding him (examples could potentially include: Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain, Delmon Young, Ryan Zimmerman, and Francisco Liriano).
But, just because a young stud does perform well as a rookie (Willie Taveras, Ryan Howard, Robinson Cano and Gustavo Chacin) does not mean that he is not susceptible to what is known as "The Sophomore Slump."
Some players take a little longer to mature than others, finally busting out to live up to their potential (Luis Gonzalez and Jason Isringhausen), while others have a "flash-in-the-pan" or "career" year only to revert to their average performance level of years past (Adrian Beltre and Brady Anderson).
These players are all very difficult to gauge when preparing for an upcoming season, which is why they are referred to as "high-risk/ high-reward" players.
Veterans, who are usually more dependable, are also candidates to be labeled as "high-risk/ high-reward." Mike Piazza has dealt with shaky knees and slower bat speed as a result of his 1,530 games caught.
Veterans can also find themselves victims of the injury bug. Players like Scott Rolen, Ken Griffey Jr., Roy Halladay and are capable of putting together MVP-
type seasons, but their unpredictable health status lowers their value significantly.
Making the decision to protect any of these players as keepers based on their star potential in 2006 is entirely up to you, but the fear of losing them indefinitely makes the decision very difficult.
Then you have some big-time names that have just lost it. They are not worthy of being on a fantasy league roster, much less a protected list of 10 keepers.
Your admiration for their past achievements need not blind you into thinking they are just on a bad run and that 2006 will be their year.
Players such as Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams, Craig Biggio, and Jamie Moyer see their best years rapidly fading in the rear view mirror as retirement approaches on the horizon. If a player is closer to being eligible to receive Hall of Fame votes than he is to his years of glory, move on! Examples have been given, representing the kinds of players to keep and the kinds of players you should not keep.
If you are having difficulty making difficult keeper decisions, remember that I always welcome emails regarding your questions and concerns.
If you have any questions concerning keeper leagues, point leagues, auction leagues, prospects, sleepers, come-back players, etc, fire me an email and I will try to address your question in print.
I appreciate and look forward to hear from each of you. Feel free to send any suggestions or comments you may have to John Ginther at email@example.com.