Many questions came pouring in this week regarding my 2007-11 long-term keeper rankings, so this week's Mailbag focuses on some of the more interesting ones:
Trev, Hayward, Calif.: How is Vladimir Guerrero ranked 37 out of all your keepers?! He is just entering his prime! You have some explaining to do.
Tristan: Actually, Guerrero is not entering his prime; at age 30 today, he's already in his prime. Most hitters, once they pass the age of 30, improve most in batting average, mainly a result of improved pitch selection, but that increase isn't nearly as much as the steady decline in power and run production, which can begin anywhere from age 31-35. Guerrero should have another two or three years of MVP-caliber production in him, but my concern is that sometime in 2009-11, he's going to show a noticeable decline statistically. Remember, he's a free swinger who relies greatly on his bat speed, so he's the kind of hitter who could endure a steep decline once the effects of age slow his swing. Don't take Guerrero's No. 37 ranking as a knock on his 2007 potential, or his 2008 value, either. He should be a top-20 player at worst for the next two seasons, with .310-35-120-10 potential.