Fantasy Articles
The Giants are a team that does not include many "fantasy-stars." I have not ranked one of thier players in the"Top Tier." Each member of thier starting lineup is over 30 years old, and, in some cases, just not that good. They do have young pitching in Matt Cain and Noah Lowry that hold the potential to maybe give them some "Top Tier" fantasy player in a few years. This year, though, it looks like you won't have many San Francisco Giants on your fantasy team...if you draft a good team.

The Top Tier:

The Giants do not have any "Top Tier" fantasy players.

The Second Tier:

Barry Bonds (LF): After many years of easily being a "Top Tier" fantasy player, Barry Bonds drops down a notch this season. Even though he played great in 2006 when he was on the field, Bonds plays less-and-less as the years pass and if he's on your team it will be a daily routine to check if he's starting or taking an all-to-common day off because of his balky knees. In all actuality, in a traditional 5x5 league Bonds was nothing special last season with his .270 AVG, 26 HR, 77 RBI, 74 Runs, and 3 SB's. What makes him a second tier player though, since the afforementioned stats clearly aren't "second tier-worthy," is that in leagues that use more "sophisticated" stats, such as OBP and SLG, Bonds is still a star. (.454 OBP, .545 SLG in 2006).

Barry Zito (SP): Everybody seems to think that AT&T Park in San Francisco is going to make Zito a better pitcher in 2006 than he'd previously been, but that's just not true. Both the Giants home ballpark, and Zito's old home ballpark, McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, are very similar in terms of park factors for runs scored and allowed. But while his new home ballpark won't help him, the switching of leagues clearly will. Moving to the National League will pretty much help any pitcher; so look for Zito to still be an effective pitcher. The reason he is classified as a "second tier" pitcher ,though, is because a 3.83 ERA and a 151/99 K/BB in 221 IP (Zito's stats last season) are not even close to what you'd expect from true "top tier" pitchers like Johan Santana or Roy Halladay...even after improvement.

Ray Durham (2B): The offense that Ray Durham provided from the keystone position last year actually made him a "Top Tier" fantasy player since second baseman with those kinds of numbers are few and far between. But, for these rankings, Durham stays on the "second tier"--where he's been ever since he stopped stealing bases in 2003. Last season was a definitely a career year for Durham. He set career-highs in HR's (26), SLG (.538) and OPS (.898), and decline is inevitable. But, as a second baseman, his career 162 game average of .281/.354/.443 with 17 HR, and 72 RBI is more than you'd expect from almost any second baseman, and makes him a very valuable fantasy player (average NL second baseman hit .272/.336/.422).

The Third Tier:

Dave Roberts (CF): I'm not going to lie, it is only the amount of bases that Roberts has the potential to steal that gets him in the "third tier." Even though last year was his age-34 season, Roberts still stole 49 bags and is capable of posting a league-average OBP or higher; which a player needs to continuing stealing a good amount of bases. Other than that, though, Roberts posted a disgusting .393 SLG last season, and only hit 2 HR. He's the guy you draft in the 4th or 5th round when you realize you have no stolen bases on your team yet.

Omar Vizquel (SS): Very similar, in terms of profile, to Dave Roberts--but with less stolen bases. He has absolutey no power as demonstrated by his .389 SLG last season (.360 career mark) and 4 HR--but he can post a decent OBP and AVG, and as mentioned earlier, can steal a base (24 in each of his last two seasons). That gets him in the "third tier," because other than that, he's really nothing special since fantasy leagues don't consider defense.

Bengie Molina (C): He's old, and he's slow, but he does have some pop in his bat. Last season he hit 19 HR's as a Toronto Blue Jay...though in a park that is far, far more condusive to right handers than AT&T look for that number to fall. When that power goes, Molina becomes nothing more than a hitter who relies too much on basehits to get on base (small difference between OBP and AVG), and is too slow to take advantage of the extensive alleys in the Giants home ballpark. But, he is a starting catcher whose isn't an offensive black hole like Brad Ausmus, or his brother he stays on the "third tier."

Matt Cain (SP): Cain gets a ton of attention as being an up-and-coming arm, and deserves this as his minor league numbers were great, and last season--13-12, 4.15 ERA, 179/87 K/BB ratio in 190.7 IP--he was amazing considering he was only 21 years old. If he builds on that season he will be sure to be in the "second tier" of these rankings next season (maybe higher), but until he does he's stays on the "third tier." Usually, in a young pitcher's second year the league either "gets the book" on him, or he builds on his dominance. Since this is yet to be determined, drafting Cain is still risky.

Noah Lowry (SP): Last year was a disappointment for Lowry and all his fantasy owners. His 4.74 ERA was almost a full run higher than his 2005 output (3.78) and his K/BB ratio (1.5:1) was also much worse than it was in that same season (2.26:1). But, he did have an excuse in that he was injured for part of the year. Good news for fantasy owners is that Lowry will be 26 years old next season and he does keep the walks down (3.15 BB/9 in his major league career, 3.16 in his minor league career) so he's not a horrible pick for a third or fourth starter...with the potential to be a number two.

Question Marks:

Randy Winn (RF): If appears as if Randy Winn has gone through his "peak" years and is starting to decline--he will be 33 years old this season. With that in mind, though, he is not as bad as the .262/.324/.396 batting line he posted last season; but is he worthy of a starting OF spot on any fantasy team, even if he improves? I wouldn't bet on it. While you may say that it was only two years ago that Winn posted a .306/.360/.499 line to go along with 20 HR and 19 SB's with San Francisco and Seattle, I will say that his career 162-game average is .284/.343/.421 with 11 HR's and 22 SB's which is not bad, but starting outfilder worthy? Maybe, but not after the season he just had.

Rich Aurilia (1B): When healthy, Rich Aurilia has consistently been a better than average offensive player throughout his career, but last season was a little "too good" as he posted his best numbers (.300/.349/.518, 23 HR, 70 RBI) since his infamous 2001 campaign when he had a .941 OPS to go along with 37 HR. He will be 35 years old next season, and a drop in his HR total should be expected as AT&T park is not friendly to power-hitting righties...the exact opposite of his home ballpark last season in Cincinnati. It seems last season was a "blip" on the radar for a player that is nothing more than a slightly above average offensive player.

Matt Morris (SP): Morris was a large disappointment in 2006--his first as a Giant--and it wasn't just because of his "near 5" ERA (4.98), it was because he actually "pitched" worse. What I mean by this is that in terms of the events that Morris, and only Morris control, like strikeouts and walks allowed, Morris was the worst he's ever been. His K/BB ratio was 1.86:1--he hadn't been below 2.00:1 since 1998! Is this a sign of a pitcher "losing it?" Normally it is. But, maybe he was "adjusting" to his new team. After all, his career K/BB is 2.50:1 his career ERA is 3.79, and he's not horribly old (32 this season) so improvement isn't out of the question. To boot, he's a workhorse that has started less than 30 games only once since 2001. But, even after improvment, is he really worth a slot in your starting rotation?