Thought I would take a stab at providng one measure for upside. What better way than to begin by comparing players at their PROVEN BEST? Began by selecting 90 players (not a magic number) that had my interest and/or seemed to be of interest to commenters. The following compares each player's HOTTEST 50 consecutive games played for 2009. So, this is a TRUE measure, in that it isn't based on speculation. These numbers reflect real performance. Why 50? Seems as if roughly one-third of their seasons is a significant representation. It is consecutive so as to reduce the likelihood that a player was just up against soft pitching.
Perused each player's game log. Monthly tabulations easily indicated HOT streaks. Selected a group that seemed encompassing and then expanded/retracted to get to the 50 with the most productive results. Games 'not played' were simply dropped so as to have a full slate of 50 games for each player. Averaged each player's cumulative stats for 5X5 standard roto: R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG. Entered each player's line to a spreadsheet. Sorted and ranked each category. Averaged the five rankings to come up with overall rankings. (Note: I suppressed R and AVG to reflect that they had a much lower range of difference in performance than HR, RBI, and SB. Runs had a high of 43, low of 16, with 45 players from 34 to 39 Runs. It didn't seem appropriate to assign a rank of '7' to a 34 and '52' to 39. The difference of only five runs doesn't impact roto standing that dramatically. So, I suppressed that category to a range of 59, instead of 90.)
SB: high-30, low-0, avg-6. Crawford top.
HR: high-22, low-1, avg-10. A.Gonzalez top.
RBI: high-59, low-7, avg-30. Howard top.
AVG: high-.401, low-.213, avg-.321. Ichiro top.
Be aware that catchers' performance is based on 50 games played. The totals do not reflect the fact that many catchers do not play a full slate of games. Again, the attempt is to provide a comparative measure of performance of players for their 50 hottest consecutive games played.
Some players did not play full seasons. In fact, this may have been their first partial season. So, their 50 games may not reflect the best of when they are on a hot streak. You may choose to bump them up even further.
DON'T TAKE THIS AS THE END-ALL:
It is extremely unlikely that NOT ONE player will produce for a full year the production from his 2009 Hot 50. Nevertheless, this list does give you a comparison of players at their peak performances.
The #1 ranked player, Torii Hunter, indeed started the year aflame, 40/14/46/11/.330. Of course, he got injured and one may/may not have faith in his ability to produce for a full 2010.
Will Rajai Davis bat .358 with 87 SB over the course of 2010? (his Hot numbers extended)
What if a player couldn't hit lefties and was benched for those games? (Those wouldn't be reflected in his 50.)
Will Ryan Howard steal 13 bases in 2010?
A FEW INTRIGUING COMPARISONS?:
These are NOT projections. However, they are rankings of real performance. This will probably only make your decisions that much more difficult. You will see that several of your risky players did, indeed, perform with the big boys. The question still remains for you to decide, “How likely is it that they will reach/exceed that performance again?”
The list is provided to give you a little more data for helping to decide whether or not to take the risk on the upside of a player, or strengthen your will to pass on a player that may not be as strong as he was in prior years. Dig deeper on your targeted players to make the final call. Compare this list to ADP rankings in the spring?
ALL 90 BY POSITION:
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