Over/Under Part 1: A Preview of the 2009 American League Baseball Season

In this the first installment of my Over/Under series, I will be throwing out a statline for one position player and one pitcher from each American League squad and then determining whether I expect that player’s production to exceed or fall short of that standard. When the All-Star break rolls around we’ll check up on our progress and then again once the season has concluded. What follows may very well be the inside edge you need to win your fantasy league and earn bragging rights over your buddies … just don’t forget me when you’re counting out your winnings.

Over/Under 25 HR 115 RBI and 15 SB for Nick Markakis: Over – The Greek god of production, Markakis does it all. With Brian Roberts and an improving Adam Jones setting the table, this is a guy you want on your team.

Over/Under 10 wins and 120 Ks for Jeremy Guthrie: Under – The Baltimore ace by default, Guthrie has movement on all his pitches and pounds the strikezone, but in a brutal division he will struggle to match last year’s production.

Over/Under 60 SB and 105 R for Jacoby Ellsbury: Over – If you’re fishing for batting average and power you will be disappointed, but Ellsbury can fly and a (mostly) healthy David Ortiz helps everybody in this lineup.

Over/Under 200 IP and 15 wins for Josh Beckett: Over – As always, if he pitches his production will be there. I think Beckett has something to prove this year and there there is no nastier pitcher when he has a chip on his shoulder.

Over/Under .325 BA and 20 HR for Robinson Cano: Over – It seems like Cano has been around forever though he is only 26.  I think this is the year he puts it all together and becomes a force in the middle of that Yankee lineup.

Over/Under 175 IP and 12 wins for AJ Burnett: Under – When he’s on he’s filthy, but career highs in starts, innings, strikeouts and wins last season have me concerned.  A hot start to the season wouldn’t surprise me … 30 starts would.

Over/Under 15 HR and 50 SB for Carl Crawford: Over – How quickly we forget … a season removed from All-Star production, the unquestioned leader of the Rays is due for a major bounce-back season in 2009.

Over/Under 20 starts for David Price: Over – This is becoming a yearly occurance for the Rays.  Look for them to bring Price along sometime soon ala Evan Longoria last season.  10 wins is not out of the question for the young lefty.

Over/Under 20 HR and 80 RBI for Travis Snider: Over – With a depleted pitching staff, the Jays will need to outscore teams with their talented young lineup.  This 21-year-old phenom is one of the few brights spots in Toronto.

Over/Under 10 wins and 125 Ks for David Purcey: Under – There are a lot of believers in the big lefty in the middle of the Blue Jay rotation.  I am not one of them.  A shaky bullpen situation only hurts Purcey’s value in 2009 … avoid.

Over/Under 25 HR and 90 RBI for Alexei Ramirez: Under – The Cuban-born Ramirez won’t sneak up on big league pitchers this season.  That isn’t to say he won’t be a productive player, but temper your expectations.

Over/Under 15 wins and a 3.50 ERA for John Danks: Over – The 23-year-old lefty improved his command in his sophomore season.  If the ChiSox can get him some run support the wins will follow, even if his ERA creeps up a bit.

Over/Under 20 HR and 100 RBI for Victor Martinez: Over – Look for the outlier in Martinez’s past five seasons then consider that he is only 30 years old.  Don’t be scared off by his injury-plagued 2008, he will rebound in a big way.

Over/Under 12 wins and 185 IP for Fausto Carmona: Under – Speaking of outliers, Carmona had his in 2007 with his 3.06 ERA.  He simply walks too many batters to be a reliable fantasy pitcher, especially with his lack of strikeouts.

Over/Under 20 HR and 20 SB for Curtis Granderson: Over – The perfect table-setter for this Tiger lineup, look for Granderson to get off to a hot start.  Jimmy Leyland wants Granderson to run more this season as well.

Over/Under 200 IP and 17 wins for Armando Gallaraga: Over – He isn’t flashy, but this Venezuelan righty knows how to win ballgames.  With the Tiger’s potent lineup, I think 20 wins is within reach as early as this season.

Over/Under 20 HR and a .275 BA for Alex Gordon: Over – Gordon has very quietly made improvements in each of his first two seasons.  He’s not a true breakout candidate yet, but look for the positive trend to continue this season.

Over/Under 3.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP for Zack Greinke: Under – If Greinke can continue to improve his ground ball rate, he could see big returns in the win column this season.  The Royals may surprise some people this season.

Over/Under 10 HR and 30 SB for Denard Span: Over – Delmon Young gets all the pub, but Span is the Twins OF you want to own.  Another season under his belt and we could be looking at a poor man’s Carl Crawford.

Over/Under 3.75 ERA and 35 BB for Kevin Slowey: Under – This kid isn’t overpowering, but he is an assassin with his command.  Limiting free passes means fewer big innings and more talleys in the win column at seasons end.

Over/Under 500 AB and a .325 BA for Howie Kendrick: Over – Once in a while you just have to go out on a limb.  Sadly for this 25-year-old second baseman, staying healthy for a full season hasn’t happened yet … until now.

Over/Under 50 starts for Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey and Ervin Santana: Under – The Angels may have their work cut out for them if Joe Saunders remains near the top of their rotation.  As these three go, the halo’s season goes.

Over/Under 30 HR and 120 RBI for Matt Holliday: Over – The power numbers will be there, but the 28 stolen bases are sure to decrease in Oakland.  No matter, Holliday rakes and in an improved A’s lineup he will have a huge year.

Over/Under 20 wins between Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill: Over – They aren’t Hudson, Zito or Mulder, but this pair of youngsters will be called upon this year to bolster the Oakland staff.  I think they will answer the bell.

Over/Under 30 HR and 100 RBI for Adrian Beltre: Over – The last time Beltre was in a contract year he exploded.  I wouldn’t expect another 48 homeruns but this rock-solid defensive third baseman can handle the stick as well.

Over/Under 30 saves for Brandon Morrow: Under – Concerns over his arm landed Morrow back in the bullpen, concerns over his ability to throw strikes has me thinking he may not keep this role once Chad Cordero is healthy.

Over/Under 20 HR and 85 RBI for Hank Blalock: Over – With Michael Young shifting over to third base, Blalock will assume the full-time DH role for the Rangers.  If he stays healthy (and I think he can), his numbers will be there.

Over/Under 15 wins and 135 Ks for Kevin Millwood: Under – Millwood eats innings, but the durable righty surrenders too many hits to be counted on for big win production.  Double-digit wins should be within reach, but just barely.

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