Fantasy Articles
Today, our series of fantasy takes concludes with the World champions from Philadelphia. The players in Philly won’t disappoint after coming off a World Series performance.  From slugger Ryan Howard, to ace Cole Hamels, second baseman Chase Utley and sparkplug Jimmy Rollins, the great stars from last year will continue to shine.  And even after a superior season, they still have more surprises up their sleeves…

Top Tier:

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard make up the best right side of the infield in the majors.
Ryan Howard (1B): He is Ryan Howard, ‘nuff said.  He is your man if you need some home runs or RBI’s on your fantasy team, since he has banged 177 homers and knocked in 499 runs in his three years of service.  If, for some insanely rare circumstance, you have enough RBI’s and homers on your fantasy team, then DO NOT draft this guy.  With batting averages of .313, .268, and .251 (over the last three years) he seems to be shaping up as an Adam Dunn-esque player. 

Chase Utley (2B): Alongside Ian Kinsley, Utley is arguably the best second baseman fantasy-wise, and definitely tops in NL only leagues.  His batting average (.309, .322, and .292) over last three years and the fact that he hit 30+ homers and 100+ RBI’s is enough to regard this guy as the best.  And with this Phillies’ offense he will continue to get ideal situations with runners on board when he comes to the plate.

Cole Hamels (SP): Three years in the Majors and he’s already the ace of a World Series team.  I believe this guy will repeat, if not do better than last year’s stats, and I believe that for two reasons.  The first being that he can pitch under pressure; last year’s post-season stretch showed that quality in him instantly.  The second reason is that he is a youngster, which means he has room to grow.  We have already seen improvement in his ERA over the last three years, going from 4.08 to 3.09.  Hamels will only get better, which will make him ideal for keeper leagues if he is still available.

Second Tier:

Brad Lidge (CL): Lidge was by far a top tier player last year, but his history prevents him from staying top tier in my opinion.  His career has been a roller coaster ride, going from a great closer on a playoff team, to a guy that can’t throw the ball without giving up runs, to being god-like.  I just can’t trust this guy.  I would still take him among the top closers though, just because he was so damn good last year.

Jimmy Rollins (SS): Hopefully Rollins can return to his outstanding numbers that he put out in ’07.  Things are looking that direction already, after an amazing showing for team USA at the World Baseball Classic in which he batted .417.  Keep an eye on him though; he came off a very rough 2008 season.

Raul Ibanez (OF):
Ibanez is the Phillies’ big offensive acquisition this off-season.  Ibanez will excel in this loaded lineup, especially after being depraved in Seattle for a few years.  Watch for him to hit around 30 homers and well over 100 RBI’s.

Third Tier:

Shane Victorino (OF):
Victorino will add a solid outfielder to any fantasy team.  He is probably the definition of a consistent player (nearly identical numbers in the last three seasons).  If you are in an NL only league, you can go for this guy early after everybody has taken the big bats and has moved on to pitchers, and you can make it the steal of the draft.

Pedro Feliz (3B): He had some very solid numbers in San Francisco in his time there, but one thing has prevented him from moving up a tier; his average.  With an average below .250, he may potentially hurt you if you are fine on homers and RBI’s.  He may be a little sketchy this year as well; he has had a poor Spring Training after back surgery.

Question Marks:

Starting Pitchers # 2-5: Cole Hamels is excellent, but what comes after him?  It’s projected to be Brett Myers (10-13 last year with a 4.55 ERA), Jamie Moyer (great guy, but he is also 46 years old), Joe Blanton (who had a 4.96 ERA with the A’s, then a 4.20 ERA with the Phillies last year), and Chan Ho Park (who hasn’t done much since he was with the Dodgers in the 90’s).  This staff looks pretty dismal for the Phillies.  I would not draft any of these players because the only stat that they may get is wins but that’s due to the offense.

Great Debate:

Jayson Werth:
Last year he finally proved his Werth with 24 HR’s, .273 BA, .861 OPS and 20 SB. He has been in the Majors since 2004 and some have predicted him to put out Alfonso Soriano-like numbers (which means high totals in homers, RBI’s, average, and stolen bases).  Was last year a fluke or was it the beginning of something amazing?

Up and Coming:

Gregg Dobbs: Dobbs has played a decent amount of games over the last two years, but last years’ average of .301 stands out to me.  If Pedro Feliz goes down or if he can’t put out decent numbers, then watch for Dobbs to get another chance at proving himself.  And remember, he’s still young.