I want to take a look at a couple of players that I felt strongly about going into 2008: Carlos Pena and Jeff Francoeur. Both had breakout campaigns in 2007 but I saw the two going in opposite directions in 2008.
Carlos Pena is a player with a ton of potential. Every stop he has made along the way was where they thought he’d finally realize it, but never did, until 2007. He had a huge season with the Devil Rays hitting .282 with 46 HR’s and 121 RBi. Had he finally made it? I was not a believer. I predicted a downturn for him in my projections (.264/34/114) and I’ve kind of been right. So far he’s batting .189 but he’s also slammed 6 HR’s and driven in 13 runs. He’s striking out more than one third of his at bats and has no doubles or triples. In other words, he’s got Dave Kingman disease. I see his batting average finishing around .225, but his power numbers will be close to his 2007 numbers. This might be what he has become after many years of failure to meet the lofty goals that were expected of him.
Jeff Francoeur also has a ton of potential and seems to be moving a little more in the right direction. He beefed up of the offseason and I was expecting it to translate into a huge 2008. I projected him out to .303/31/96 for this season after achieving .293/19/105 in 2007. Francoeur didn’t hit a lot of HR’s last year, but he hit 16 more doubles in 2007 than the year before and I figured the extra muscle would help those translate into homers. So far he’s hitting .292/3/19. These numbers look strikingly like 2007 and he may have settled into that type of line.
Both guys can help your fantasy team, but they both have their warts. Be careful of your expectations of each before you pay too much for either.