'Robinson Cano' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

Head to head, 9th pick 12 team. Robinson Cano, Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder. Top 2 in order please? – @Quinn8585

Here's the dirty little secret of fantasy baseball – no one really knows the answer to this question. We all obsess over who to take in the first an second rounds as if the answer matters more than air. In truth, no one knows. I've been  referring to the study in the 2012 Baseball Forecaster by Baseball HQ to make my point (pp.42-43). According to HQ's research, over the past eight years you have a 37.5 percent chance of drafting someone in the top-15 and at the end of the year finding them inside the top-15 in production. That means, and we're talking eight years here, that you have roughly a one in three chance of “hitting” on your first round selection. On the flip side that means 2/3's of the players drafted in the first round this year will not return first round value when the 2012 season is complete. Remember that next time your biting your fingernails trying to figure out who the best guy is to draft in the first round. If it was my team I'd take CarGo and Robinson Cano.

I was offered a trade, Joey Votto for Prince Fielder. Maybe I'm splitting hairs but I don't see a big difference, do you? – @AtlFan23

Well, if we are talking about a standard 5x5 fantasy league I think there is a difference, and it's two-fold. First, Fielder has hit .282 for his career. In two of the past four years he's failed to reach that mark, and he's never hit .300 in a season (he fell one hit short last year finishing at .299). Votto has hit .313 for his career, has hit at least .309 each of the past three years, and in four full big league seasons he has never hit lower than .297. Votto is clearly the better play in batting average. The second area in which he takes a step over Fielder is in the steals category. Now I doubt Votto is going to steal 16 bases again as he did in 2010, but he did flash enough speed to swipe another eight bags last year giving him a two year average of 12 steals a season. Fielder has a mere 16 steals in his career including two the past two seasons. An eight steal different doesn't sound like much, but it's a huge fantasy boost in value for Votto. Also, one last point that tips things in the favor of Votto. Fielder has been the slightly better power bat with bigger homer totals, but this season he moves from a park in Milwaukee that was the second best homer park in the NL the past three years for lefties (according to Park Indices), for one in Detroit that was only 10th best in the AL for lefties. It's quite possible that the homer gap between the two disappears this season.

I was offered Kendrys Morales for Michael Young straight up – would you accept that offer? – @Jpetermon

Hype always amazes me. Every year we see rookies and youngsters driven up to the point that they are being drafted as if they were five time all-star's (hello Brett Lawrie and Matt Moore). We also get players who excel in spring training being drafted way too early (I'm thinking Lorenzo Cain might fit into this category this year). A player that certainly fits into this second group is Morales. I know he has gone 11-for-26 (.423) with two homers but where is this hysteria coming from? How many at-bats did Morales have last year? Zero. How many at-bats has Morales had since the All-Star break in 2010? Zero? In fact, over the past twenty two months Morales has zero big league at-bats (he last appeared in a game on May 29th, 2010). Not just that, we're talking about 26 spring training at-bats as well, that's the definition of small sample size. Sure he's looked great at this dish this spring, and he was a 34 homers, 108 RBI bat who hit .306 in 2009, but Carlos Lee hit .300 with 26 homers and 102 RBI in 2009 (not exactly a great comparison I know, but hopefully you get my point). Morales might return to being a top-10 first basemen this season but there is no way I'd take him in a deal straight up for Michael Young, one of the most consistent hitters in baseball the past decade. No thanks.

Jonathan Broxton and uncertainty in Kansas City, or Mark Melancon and uncertainty in Boston? – @mrlcpbra

I have probably, and I'm not exaggerating for effect here, received 150 questions about the Red Sox and Royals bullpen situations over the past 10 days. Hell, that number may be well over 250 to be truthful. Here's a form of what I've said to everyone who has asked; when the team doesn't even know who they are going to turn to in the 9th inning, how in the world am I supposed to know what the “right” answer is? The answer to this question basically comes down to your philosophy on relievers. Some bullet points to consider.

* I can't read a manager's mind. I have no idea how he will handle the 9th inning call. Will he choose to go with experience, guile, stuff, match ups?

* Teams don't always go with their best pitcher in the 9th inning, and that makes answering this issue, from a fantasy baseball perspective, maddening. Think of the Nationals. Their best reliever is Tyler Clippard, so he should be the first choice to fill in for the injured Drew Storen. However, the team thinks that Clippard is far too important in his setup role to handle the ninth inning so it looks like the save chances will be given to Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez who are inferior pitchers to Clippard.

* If closer number one is out of commission, how long a leash will the “backup” closer have? If he blows two saves will the manager flip to option three?

* Given all of that, I target skills not role. That's my choice. In the end I think that skills win out. Teams tire quickly – unless you're Kevin Gregg – of seeing their closers struggle to close out games in the 9th. Eventually the most skilled players should, notice I say should, gravitate to the 9th inning (it's why I have recommended Kenley Jansen over Javy Guerra even though Guerra is set up to be the closer to start the year for the Dodgers). Eventually if you go with the skills you will be rewarded. However, let me be clear, that does not mean you will always make the “right” fantasy choice. The fact of the matter is that you need saves, and if Javy Guerra gives you 29 saves with a 4.43 ERA he's still going to provide more fantasy value than Jansen and his six saves and 2.13 ERA. That's just the breaks in the standard 5x5 fantasy game.

Given all of that, I'd go with Greg Holland and Mark Melancon if I was deciding on who to add from the Royals and Red Sox bullpens.

Thirteen team 7x7 roto. Closer neglect left me with just Andrew Bailey. Free agent list dry. OK to punt? Can it be done? – @FearNLoathinNyc

I don't ever recommend to someone that they punt a category, but you can do it an win (it stands an even better chance of being successful in a head-to-head league than a roto league). For a breakdown of this strategy see Punting Categories – A Good Idea?

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

 




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

Ray Flowers on Twitter

RT @yestoresearch: According to retrosheet, only time a Yankee pitcher was tossed for throwing a doctored ball was Bob Shawkey 8/14/24 …

Just have to be smarter about it. RT @AManning85: f you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'

RT @Wilnerness590: Final line for McGowan: 4ip (+3 batters), 5h, 6r/er, 1bb, 5K, 1hpb, 2hr. 70p/43 strikes. Can neither win nor lose....

RT @Haudricourt: Correction: #Brewers Segura hit first HR since July 30 of last season, not July 13.

RT @seanlahman: Reds' Billy Hamilton is batting .345 over last 8 games. Small sample size and all, but still... 10/29 with 7 SBs