Every year, it seems that the Rotoworld team makes a better fantasy guide than they did the year before and the 2009 edition of this draft guide is no exception. However, the printed guide you find on the news stand is a different product from their online draft guide, which comes with real time updates, which are not offered to buyers of the magazine. It’s also got some flaws (which may be addressed in the online version, which at $14.99 is more than twice the price of the printed version), but definitely hurt the paper version of this guide.
See AHP’s criteria for reviewing fantasy guides here.
• Articles - An excellent array of strategy articles, opinions, predictions and more for standard one season leagues, keeper leagues, top offseason moves, questions, a fantasy roundtable, and even a nice stathead article on how defense effects pitching fill out the magazine. The humorous Crystal Ball Season predictions by Craig Calcaterra deserves a special mention even if it won’t help your fantasy draft one bit.
• Top prospects - Top 100 prospects with capsules and ETA in the bigs for the first 52, explaining who you should keep an eye on and why. Then a list of the remaining 48 PLUS there are another 20 to keep an eye on for 2010-11. It’s one of the best prospect sections available this year.
• Sleeper picks - An article picking 25 guys that the guide’s experts think may outperform this season.
• Boom and Bust predictions - As a counterpart to the sleepers, there is a list of 25 guys who they feel may underperform.
• Medical watch - None.
• Cheat Sheets - Solid, with players divided by position and by tiers and a top 300 overall.
• Team Previews - None.
• Depth Charts - Projected lineups, starters and setup/closers for all 30 teams - Check, as well as capsulized bullpen report discussing closers in waiting and lists of players lost or gained (accurate only up until the time of printing.
• Mock Draft - Check with capsule summaries of each round and the best value picks, questionable picks and more.
• Position eligibility chart - None, a bad flaw in an otherwise good guide. Unlike many guides you can find position eligibility on each capsule, but it’s a lot more work.
• Park Factors chart - None.
• Information Key - Missing - obviously their mock serpentine is based on a 12 team mixed league, but there is no explanation of how many teams the dollar values are based on.
• Rankings by positions - Done in a five tier draft style which some players will like, others won’t.
• Internet updates - None.
• Player capsules - Extremely strong and spanning roughly 1,000 players, divided into alphabetical sections of hitters and pitchers.
• Bonus features which are nice to have - List of contract year players by position, ratings of the projected top 20 (10 per league) middle relievers for a fantasy team, plus five more worth knowing. Projected leader boards for the standard 5x5 plis Slugging %, OBP and IP.
Upsides: Excellent articles and player capsules. Tiered cheat sheets. Great sections on sleepers, busts and prospects.
Downsides: Lack of an explanatory key, lack of team previews, lack of a position eligibility chart - which is reflected in the cheat sheets where players seem to only be listed at a single position even if they are eligible at both. No free updates for those who don’t purchase their online draft guide.
Overall: This is a very good fantasy guide, but it’s still a few steps away from being a perfect one.
Give it 2.5 balls based on its overall balance but it lacks several features found in its competitors.
AtHomePlate.com grades books with the following system
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the book story to get a copy.
Three Balls: This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Two Balls: A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.
One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.
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