Fantasy Baseball 2011 Position Rankings
Top 20 Catchers
1. Joe Mauer – His numbers in 2010 would have been great for any catcher not named Joe Mauer. After hitting an absurd .365 with 28 home runs and signing a mega-contract, Mauer came crashing down to Earth and hit .327 with nine home runs. If he replicates last season that is still really good, just not first-round good. Hitting in Target field may take a lot more time to get used to and he may never hit that many home runs, but Mauer is still elite and the best hitting catcher in the game until Brian McCann or Buster Posey can prove otherwise.
2. Brian McCann – The perennial all-star for the National League, McCann hits for power and will get you over 20 home runs. His average has declined slightly the past two seasons but he’s still a very reliable pick in the late third, early fourth round.
3. Buster Posey – The National Rookie of the year will challenge McCann for starting catcher at the all-star game and Mauer as the best catcher in the game. Posey will hit for average and power, the only question is will it be at the level of last year or will there be a sophomore slump? Also the grinding nature of the long season will test him, but with adequate rest he should put up impressive numbers.
4. Victor Martinez – Being a consistent, slugging catcher is rare and Martinez is just that. He will hit .300 again but playing in cavernous Detroit is not going to help in the home run column. Having Miguel Cabrera’s personal problems possibly preventing the all-star first basemen from playing at his full potential isn’t going to help Martinez either. With Martinez being one of only four all-star caliber catchers in baseball, don’t let Martinez pass you by after the other three are taken.
5. Geovany Soto – Soto rebounded from his disastrous 2009 season and regained his 2008 Rookie of the Year self last season. The friendly convines of Wrigley field were good for his power numbers but injuries and the Cubs overall lack of offense were not. If Soto can stay healthy he’ll continue to hit .280 with 25 home runs. The Cubs offense is still subpar at best so his RBI opportunities are somewhat limited.
6. Mike Napoli – He’s a lock to hit 20 home runs and not much else. He might hit for a decent average or he could hit a measly .240. Playing with the Rangers will help get him more at bats and some warning track fly balls he hit in Anaheim will turn into home runs in Arlington.
7. A.J. Pierzynski – An aging catcher in a good offense who can still swing the bag a bit. Hitting .275, 10 home runs is a reasonable goal for him.
8. Carlos Ruiz – Ruiz has worked to improve his average from a paltry .219 in 2008 to a serviceable .255 in 2009 to a near all-star season by hitting .302 last season. The Phillies offense is going to be strong once again and Ruiz will contribute to that. He’ll still most likely bat in the eighth so he won’t score runs that much, but he’ll produce more RBIs than most catchers.
9. Carlos Santana – From the limited time he played, the young catcher showed he’s ready to be the everyday catcher for the Cleveland Indians. He has pop in his bat, what isn’t known is whether he can be an elite hitter and bat close to .300 or will he bat a common catcher and bat .250. Only 24, he has lots of time to have a breakout season and it could be this year. The Indians limited offense will limit his RBI opportunities though.
10. Kurt Suzuki – Had his average dip to .242 last year and yet he still had 71 RBIs. Suzuki is a serviceable catcher if he can duplicate that, can be a very productive catcher if he can bring his average up a bit. If he continues his downward slide you might need to find a replacement though.
11. Miguel Montero
12. John Buck
13. J.P. Arenciba
14. Ramon Hernandez
15. Yorvit Torrealba
16. Matt Wieters
17. Miguel Olivo
18. John Jaso
19. Josh Thole
20. Yadier Molina
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Top 25 First Basemen
1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals – The future Hall of Famer is undoubtedly the best hitter of his generation and primed to put up huge numbers in the final year of his contract. The three-time National League Most Valuable Player should be the first overall pick of every fantasy draft. Look for him to improve on last year’s .312 batting average, which is subpar in Albert’s world, to somewhere around .330 to .340 with 45 to 55 homeruns and 120+ RBIs.
2. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox – It may take a small adjustment period for Gonzalez playing in his first season in Boston and the American League, but expect great things from him this season. Anchoring a potent line-up with newly-acquired Carl Crawford at the top will give him plenty of chances to drive-in runs while giving him the protection he needs to see strikes. Count on big things coming.
3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers – Off the field troubles with alcohol may derail the 27-year-old slugger, but the talent speaks for itself. Cabrera has made great strides in Detroit with three-straight seasons with 30+ homers and is poised to get even better in an improved line-up this season.
4. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds – It’s very possible that four first baseman could be selected in the first round of your fantasy draft. Votto, last year’s NL MVP, is also 27 and looking to build on his .324 batting average and 37 homeruns from last season as the face of the franchise in Cincinnati. Expect another great season while knowing it could prove difficult for him to better those numbers.
5. Mark Texiera, New York Yankees – Starting slow in a season is about average for Tex, who had over 120 strikeouts last year for the first time since 2006. He’s in a strong lineup and has the tools to be one of the top three producers at his position and could be huge addition to your team in the late first to mid-second round.
6. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins – It’s a shame that a concussion ended what was on pace to be Morneau’s career-best season last year with a .345 batting average, 18 jacks and 56 RBIs in early July. If his current projected return of Opening Day holds true, look out as the Canadian-born bomber makes a run at an MVP season. With that being said, this is a player to watch closely in his recovery because post-concussion syndrome is very serious and tricky.
7. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies – Last year marked an obvious dip in production for Howard who suffered from a sprained left ankle that could have influenced his power shortage. After four consecutive seasons with over 45 long balls and 135+ RBIs, he tallied 31 and 108, respectively, last season. Howard should recapture his ability to hit authority to all fields while his 157 strikeouts last season where a dramatic improvement from the 186 in 2009.
8. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers – Another potential free-agent at season’s end, Fielder needs to get back to his 2008 ways when he led the league with 141 RBIs and launched 46 homeruns. Batting between perennial All-Star Ryan Braun and the highly-improved Casey McGehee should prove beneficial and Prince’s .400+ On-Base Percentage the past two seasons is a nice trend that will continue.
9. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox – The offseason move to Chicago and the American League will likely improve Dunn’s power production because he won’t need to play in the field. He will be used primarily as the designated hitter and should homer at least 45 times and have over 110 RBIs. Owners can expect a batting average anywhere from .230 to .265 and a lot of strikeouts.
10. Kendry Morales, Anaheim Angels – Owners should target Morales who is coming off a broken ankle while celebrating a game-winning, walk-off grand slam after playing only 51 games last season. The 2009 campaign is evidence of his potential when he notched 34 homeruns, 108 RBIs and a .306 batting average. The only gripe on Morales would be his low number of walks and if that gets corrected, watch out.
11. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox – Last year marked one of, if not the best, season in Konerko’s dozen years on the southside with a .312 batting average, 39 jacks, and 111 RBIs. He won’t likely duplicate those numbers, but look for another solid season and having the aforementioned Dunn will provide great left-handed protection.
12. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals – Still very young and with loads of potential at the plate, the dip in power is a concern with 15 homeruns last season in comparison to 21 in 2009. Butler’s batting average went up 17 points to .318 in the same time frame, a great sign that he is comfortable hitting big league pitching. The 24-year-old lashes tons of doubles and has a good chance of reaching 100 RBIs this season in an improved line-up in Kansas City. Here’s a player to target simply because of the possibilities of him putting it all together in terms or power and batting average.
13. Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals – The offseason acquisition of Jayson Werth overshadowed the signing of LaRoche, who together could provide a solid one-two punch in the middle of the order. Owners of this feast-or-famine guy should expect a low batting average and lots of strikeouts (LaRoche had a career-high 172 last season) to go along with decent pop and above average run production.
14. Derrek Lee, Baltimore Orioles – People forget that this guy was dominating National League pitching in 2009. Injuries to his wrist and thumb derailed Lee from performing to his standard last year, playing in a new league, with a new team and in a new ballpark may be the change he needs to return to form. Keep an eye on him throughout Spring Training to see how his wrist holds up before drafting him.
15. Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants – The journeyman and now World Series Champion looks to have found a home by the Bay with the Giants. Huff hits for a good balance between batting average and power, but does lack the RBI potential playing in an average lineup on a team that relies on pitching to win games.
16. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros – Here is another aging player coming off a dismal season in 2010, looking to rebound while now playing both outfield and first base with the departure of Lance Berkman. Lee had the worst batting average of his 12-year career last season at .246 and making contact was not an issue as he struck out only 59 times in 605 at-bats. The career .287 hitter can certainly turn it around and having guys on base to drive in will likely be the main concern.
17. Carlos Pena, Chicago Cubs –After posting a career-high, .282 batting average, Pena has since digressed with years of .247, .227 and finally last year, .196. It’s embarrassing when an every-day player can’t exceed the Mendoza Line, but now playing in the hitter-friendly confines of Wrigley Field should mean more homeruns to come when he does square it up.
18. Ike Davis, New York Mets – Playing in his second full big league season will be interesting to see how the 23-year-old follows up a standout rookie campaign. Davis’s 19 homeruns were very encouraging along with his 72 bases on balls showing he has some patience at the plate. The 138 strikeouts will go down with experience and the batting average of .264 will have to go north to be considered amongst the upper-echelon in fantasy baseball. Great potential to gain a player with lots of upside this season at a very fair market price.
19. Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins – The former fourth round draft pick had a productive season last year in what was his first as an everyday player. Sanchez figures to hold onto the starting gig for the foreseeable future, but will need to hit right-handers better than the .254 clip last season compared to .324 against lefties.
20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers – Look at Loney’s numbers at-bats, homers, and RBIs respectively over the past three seasons; 595 – 13 – 90, 576 – 13 – 90 and 588 – 10 – 88. Owners should know what to expect from the 26-year-old and that’s line drives from gap-to-gap and relatively clutch hitting when guys are in scoring position.
21. Mitch Mooreland, Texas Rangers – Having manager Ron Washington’s blessing as the team’s starter at first opens the door for Mooreland to contribute early on. The former 17th-round pick has very good power and approach at the plate with the ability to draw lots of walks.
22. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins – The veteran utility-man learned how hard it is to hit homeruns in the new Target Field last year hitting only 14 after 32 hammering 32 in the Metrodome’s final season. Cuddyer figures to add depth to your team in most formats.
23. Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers – The newly-acquired Ranger may find it hard to get at-bats in a potent line-up playing both back-up catcher and first base. Napoli has a good stick but doesn’t hit for average or get on base very often. His role won’t be easy gauge and he best to be taken late in drafts with minimal outlook.
24. Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners – After struggling last season after being a highly-touted prospect, a change in scenery may be what the youngster needs to get on track. The switch-hitting Smoak has lots of upside and should be considered late in drafts and certainly in deep leagues.
25. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves – Keep an eye on this 21-year-old prospect who is expected make the Opening Day line-up after raking in Triple-A last season. Like any player that young, Freeman could burst onto the scene and never leave just and just as easily flop in his first couple months and get sent back down the minors. He deserves the benefit of the doubt and should be watched closely in Spring Training to give an indication of how the adjustment to big league pitching is coming along.
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Top 25 Second Basemen
1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees – After lighting the world on fire last season, Cano is now becoming the player that he was expected to be. He can tear up both lefties and righties to all fields with authority. A legitimate first-round pick that an owner can count on to carry a team at times.
2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox – The sparkplug for the Red Sox offense played only 75 games last season after suffering a broken foot a day after a three-homerun game. Pedroia was having a solid campaign and should resume where he left off come Opening Day.
3. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies – A sore right knee is keeping Utley from participating in running and fielding drills at the moment while still taking part in batting practice. Last year it was a torn ligament in his thumb that sidelined him for a chunk of time. At age 32, it’s not far-fetched to think Utley can’t get revert back to 2005-09 form, although it’s likely that his best years are in the rearview mirror.
4. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves – As the most consistent source of power amongst second baseman with four consecutive seasons with 30 or more homeruns, Uggla hit a career-high .287 last season. Last season’s NL Silver Slugger will strikeout a good amount like most power hitters and doesn’t steal very often, but remains a great option at the position.
5. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers – Last season we saw the potential that Weeks possesses when healthy after being hampered by injuries the past five years. He batted in the leadoff spot and tallied 651 at-bats with 29 homers and 83 RBIs. Weeks’ value will goes up if he gets dropped in the order to produce more runs, but a very nice piece to have on your fantasy team, regardless.
6. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers – Ankle and groin injuries slowed the All-Star who can produce in every offensive category when in the line-up. There is some risk in picking up Kinsler, who is 28-years-old, but the return on investment could be substantial if he doesn’t get bit by the ‘injury bug’.
7. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds – Batting at or near the top of the order hurt Phillips’ RBI production last season while allowing him to reach 100 runs scored for the second time in his career. It’s a nice trade-off and something we can live with because the other statistics have essentially flat-lined the past three years.
8. Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks – Changing teams and divisions paid off for Johnson who set multiple career-highs offensively last season after departing Atlanta for Arizona. Among them were his 26 long balls, 71 RBIs and a .370 on-base percentage and owners can expect close, if not better numbers again this season to go along with double-digit steals.
9. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates – Alert, alert, this may be the steal of the draft! Walker, who is 25-years-old and scheduled to bat third in the order this season, batted .296, 12 homers and 66 RBIs in 110 games in 2010. He is switch-hitter and converted catcher who took over the everyday job at second base last May. Based on most projections, Walker would be available in mid-to-late rounds and his upside is better than that.
10. Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays – Based on his .205 batting average in 2010, many owners will be shy to draft him and could be a great return on investment draft choice. Hill still launched 26 bombs last season after 36 in 2009, so the guy can rake. Plan for the power production to be around 25 taters and 80+ RBIs and closer to a .260 to .275 batting average this year getting a couple balls to drop in for hits.
11. Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners
12. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
13. Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles
14. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
15. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
16. Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Rays
17. Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals
18. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Minnesota Twins
19. Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers
20. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
21. Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco Giants
22. Bill Hall, Houston Astros
23. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
24. Blake DeWitt, Chicago Cubs
25. Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics
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Top 25 Short Stops
1. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins – The unanimous No. 1 player at the position and likely second overall behind Albert Pujols, Ramirez is an elite fantasy talent and owners should feel lucky to have him on their team. He has 30/30 potential and should get even better entering his sixth major league campaign.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies – The former 7th overall draft pick in 2005 has flourished into an upper-echelon talent. Tulowitzki missed 40 games last year with a fractured wrist and posted a career-high .315 batting average, 27 blasts and 95 runs driven in. He is worth an early pick because of the sky-high potential.
3. Jose Reyes, New York Mets – A healthy Reyes is a nightmare for pitchers and catchers trying to get him out at the plate or on the base paths. He has the potential to steal over 50 bases in a season and hit anywhere from .270 to .300, but needs to score more runs than in 2010 (83) and draw more walks (31).
4. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies – Injuries slowed down the former NL MVP last season as Rollins only played 88 games after playing 135+ from 2001-09. Entering his 11th professional season, Rollins hasn’t been injury-prone over his career and will likely bounce back and have a solid 2011 campaign with over 600 at-bats, at least 20 homeruns and 20 or more steals.
5. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees – Even in the twilight of his career, the 36-year-old will score plenty of runs in the potent Yankee line-up. He will also give you a solid batting average with the potential of .300 or higher. A solid fantasy producer at a position with not a lot to choose from and should leave the board fairly early.
6. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers – The 22-year-old has great speed and should steal over 50 bases at some point in his career, while scoring 100-plus runs on a consistent basis. The Rangers’ lineup is loaded with talent and with Andrus being at the top he’ll have many chances to cross home plate. His batting average should continue to climb in his third season in the big leagues, making him a very nice addition to your squad.
7. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox – The slow start in 2010 was scary for his owners but Ramirez found his stroke and finished with a .282 batting average, 18 long balls and 70 RBIs. The free-swinger has put up consistent numbers in his career and should continue the trend this season although it would be nice to see talk a few more bases on balls.
8. Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers – If the Dodgers are going to be successful this year, a lot will ride on whether or not Furcal plays well and stay healthy. At age 33 and a long medical record, it’s not a sure bet that he will be reach 600 at-bats. If Furcal does stay healthy, owners should expect a solid statistical season with a .300 or higher batting average, 100+ runs scored and 25 or more stolen bases.
9. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondback – We have been expecting big things from this former first-round pick in 2004 and have been disappointed thus far. Owners shouldn’t expect a ‘break-out’ year but it may be somewhere down the road that Drew puts it all together. Hope for an ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ situation but know that an average season wouldn’t put him outside the top-10 amongst shortstops.
10. Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs – After a rookie season in which Castro produced a .300 batting average, expect more power and extra-base hit is his second year. The impressive thing was he stole 10 bags in 2010 and that number is sure to rise with maturity. Look for him to make a big impact at the top of a much improved Cubs lineup.
11. Yunel Escobar, Toronto Blue Jays
12. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
13. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
14. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
15. Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels
16. Ryan Theriot, St. Louis Cardinals
17. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
18. Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
19. Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay Rays
20. Cliff Pennington, Oakland A’s
21. Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves
22. Jason Bartlett, San Diego Padres
23. Marco Scutaro, Boston Red Sox
24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Milwaukee Brewers
25. Clint Barmes, Houston Astros
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Top 25 Third Basemen
1. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays – The former Long Beach State Dirtbag hasn’t reached his potential at age 25 and is considered amongst the elite in the game. While Longoria hit 22 homeruns, the lowest of his career, he also recorded career-highs in batting average (.296), on-base percentage (.372), steals (15) and doubles (46) and triples (5). Expect his power numbers to go back up and the rest to follow meaning more career-highs to come this year.
2. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – The best is yet to come for the 26-year-old who bats fourth in a line-up that improved in the offseason with the additions of Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. Last season, Zimmerman had career-highs in batting average and OBP with .307 and .388, respectively. Expect him to build on those numbers and produce 30+ homeruns and 100 or more runs batted in 2011.
3. David Wright, New York Mets – After only racking up 10 homeruns and 72 RBIs in 2009, Wright came back with 29 last season with home games played in pitcher-friendly Citi Field. It was also nice to see him swipe 19 bags though, a statistic not usually associated with third baseman. The main concern is the rising strikeout totals with 161 in 2010, meaning his bat may be slowing down at age 28.
4. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees – Following seven consecutive seasons in which he only missed 20 games from 2001-2007, Rodriguez didn’t play in 87 games over the last three years mostly due to multiple injuries. In 137 games in 2010, Rodriguez hit 30 homeruns and drove in 125 runs for a major-league record, 13th consecutive season with at least 30/100. Owners shouldn’t expect his god-like stats from MVP seasons in the past while still being premium production at the position.
5. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox – Season-ending surgery was needed to repair a torn muscle in Youkilis’s right thumb in 2010 while having a .411 OBP thru 103 games. Look for him to have an outstanding season as the Red Sox move him to the hot corner for good.
6. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers – It’s tough to say that Beltre is the sixth-best third baseman based on last year’s numbers in Boston, but that just might be the case this year. Playing in Arlington where the ball has a tendency to jump off players bats should be nice for the line-drive hitter who has plenty of pop and has proven to hit for average. Very safe pick who may play himself into the top three by season’s end.
7. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays – Hitting 54 homeruns was impressive for a player who never hit more than 16 in a season in his five pro seasons. It’s not expected that he repeats that feat but he shouldn’t fall off very much either while still posting large walk totals. Very solid pickup even though his career batting average is .244.
8. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers – The native of Santa Cruz, California has made great strides at the plate the past few season and at age 28 is entering his prime. McGehee is the protection to Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder which gives him plenty of opportunities to drive in runs, he could have 100 RBIs once again.
9. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates – The former 2nd overall pick in 2008 is the next big-time prospect playing the hot corner at age 24. Alvarez bats left-handed and has good power with 16 homeruns in 347 at-bats last season. Like many rookies he will need to improve his pitch selection in order to strikeout less (119 in his rookie season) and draw more walks (37). Anticipate some growing pains but mostly huge profit potential if you can steal him in the mid-to-late rounds.
10. Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs – Sure, the .241 last season was Ramirez’s lowest since 2002 when he hit .234 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 32, injuries have slowed him down the past two seasons but he is still a career .282 hitter with plenty power playing at Wrigley Field.
11. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
12. Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies
13. Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles
14. Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds
15. Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
16. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
17. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
18. Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies
19. Miguel Tejeda, San Francisco Giants
20. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
21. Chris Johnson, Houston Astros
22. Danny Valencia, Minnesota Twins
23. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Oakland Athletics
24. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
25. Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
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Top 60 Starting Pitchers
1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies – As dominating as it gets is the two-time Cy Young Award winner now pitching atop the deepest rotation in baseball history. Halladay has thrown more than 220 innings and won at least 16 games in each of the past five seasons while notching over 200 strikeouts for the last three consecutive seasons. He should be the first pitcher off the board mid to late first round.
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners – The 13-12 record last year did not reflect how dominating Hernandez actually was because of tough luck losses with an anemic offense. In 2009 the 25-year-old compiled a 19-5 record while his 2010 stats were better all the way across the board except for allowing two more homeruns. It will be tough to better his 2.27 ERA and 232 punch-outs from a season ago which helped deliver the Cy Young Award, but Hernandez has it in him.
3. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox – All signs indicate that this will be the year that Lester is amongst the elite class of hurlers after developing into an ace last season. The left-hander has pitched over 200 innings the past three seasons while allowing less hits each season, 202, 186 and 167, respectively. After winning 19 games last season, Lester is on the brink of greatness with an improved changeup that will allow him to dominate righties and lefties equally.
4. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies – The nine-year veteran has found a permanent home after wearing four different uniforms the past two season while pitching brilliantly in each postseason. In the same time span, his regular season numbers haven’t been stellar but yet the potential for a lights-out season is certainly there. Look for Lee to get comfortable playing in Philly very quickly and put together a season to remember for the Phils and his fantasy owners.
5. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants – It seems as though the Freak has taken a step backwards last season with a 3.43 ERA, the highest since his rookie season, and the most hits (194) and homeruns (18) allowed in his career. With that being said, Lincecum didn’t let that keep him from leading the Giants to a World Series title with a 4-1 record and 2.43 ERA in the postseason. Look for Timmy Jim Slim to put together an outstanding 2011 in his team’s title defense.
6. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees – Talk about getting what you pay for is exactly what happened when the Yankees signed Sabathia two years ago, sporting records of 19-8 and 21-7 in 2009 and 2010. This workhorse will have another great season in 2011 throwing 230+ inning with and ERA in the low 3’s and 18 or more wins.
7. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers – The 7th overall draft pick in 2006 will be just 23-years-old when the season starts and is already an established Major League pitcher. Last season, Kershaw had career-high in innings (204), strikeouts (212) and wins (13) in what was his third season as a pro. Expectations for Kershaw are rightfully high and reachable if he continues to keep his ERA under three like he did the past two seasons, 2.79 and 2.91, respectively.
8. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies – After giving up only seven runs in April and May combined last season, the Dominican came back to earth and finished 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. The concern here is the fact Jimenez finished the season 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA after the All-Star Break. The upside is limitless for a pitcher who still plays home games at Coors Field, it’s just a matter of him putting it all together.
9. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – The sometimes unhittable Verlander has had one sub-par season over the past five, in which he didn’t record at least 17 wins and have less than 10 losses. He hasn’t been injury-prone and is entering his prime at age 28, so the profit-potential is very high and will likely be drafted in the third or fourth round.
10. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins – Shoulder and back injuries kept us from seeing Johnson’s full potential last season after 28 starts. At that point, the right-hander had a 2.30 ERA, 186 punch-outs in 183 innings and an 11-6 record, which are solid, but not great numbers. If Johnson can stay healthy and put together a season of 33 starts or more, owners will be happy to have taken the so-called risk on him this season.
11. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
12. Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves
13. Mat Latos, San Diego Padres
14. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
15. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
16. Jared Weaver, Anaheim Angels
17. Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies
18. Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins
19. Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers
20. Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
21. Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels
22. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
23. Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
24. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
25. Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
26. Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers
27. Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks
28. Chad Billingsley, Los Angels Dodgers
29. Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays
30. Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics
31. Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
32. John Danks, Chicago White Sox
33. Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics
34. Ted Lilly, Los Angeles Dodgers
35. Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins
36. Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs
37. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
38. Wandy Rodriguez, Houston Astros
39. Phil Hughes, New York Yankees
40. Brett Myers, Houston Astros
41. Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
42. Ervin Santana, Anaheim Angels
43. Gio Gonzalez, Oakland Athletics
44. Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays
45. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
46. Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs
47. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
48. Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers
49. Edison Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
50. Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals
51. C.J. Wilson, Texas Rangers
52. Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
53. Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles
54. John Lackey, Boston Red Sox
55. Johan Santana, New York Mets
56. James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays
57. Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves
58. Joel Pinero, Los Angeles Angels
59. Javier Vazguez, Florida Marlins
60. Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox
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Top 25 Relief Pitchers
1. Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants – Last season was a career-year for Wilson who posted personal-bests with a 1.81 ERA in 71 innings pitched, 48 saves and 93 strikeouts. Look for him to sustain that level of dominance this season.
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees – At age 41, Rivera is still one of the games’ best closers and should have another couple years left in his tank. Owners should rest assured drafting him.
3. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals – Playing on the Royals isn’t the most opportune team for a closer to flourish in terms of fantasy, but Soria’s skill talent speaks for itself. Don’t hesistate to draft a player who posts a 1.78 ERA, 43 saves and 71 strikeouts in 65 innings like Soria did in 2010.
4. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres – The 33-year-old had his best season ever in 2010 with a 6-1 record, 47 saves and 1.93 ERA. Bell was a big contributor to a Padres’ bullpen
5. Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers – It’s unclear if the Rangers will have Feliz make the transition to a starter in the near future, but as of right now the ninth inning belongs to him. He has an explosive fastball and has proven to be unhittable at times.
6. Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs – The 138 strikeouts in 77 innings was very impressive as Marmol consistently made hitters look bad at the plate. As the full-time closer, don’t expect him to get those kind of innings, but a very good year to come.
7. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox – It was a rough year for Papelbon in 2010 when he got knocked around to the tune of a 3.90 ERA, the highest of his career. He put together 37 saves, but is a slight risk.
8. Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics – The All-Star from last year battled injury and still saved 25 ballgames with a 1.47 ERA in his second professional season. Look for better things this year as he matures in his closing role.
9. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins – After missing the entire 2010 season, the former All-Star had been very consistent before his Tommy John surgery. Look for Nathan to bounce back and return to form others have from the same injury.
10. Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets – If he can keep from getting into trouble off the field and stay healthy, he can be a top 5 closer once again. Citi Field will make hitting home runs of him extremely rare.
11. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers
12. Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
13. Huston Street, Colorado Rockies
14. Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati Reds
15. Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox
16. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks
17. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
18. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians
19. Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
20. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals
21. Leo Nunez, Florida Marlins
22. Kevin Gregg, Baltimore Orioles
23. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
24. Frank Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays
25. Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
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Top 25 Left Fielders
1. Carlos Gonzalez – The young journeyman outfielder with five-tool talent put it all together last season and set career highs in everything. CarGo brings everything to the table and will continue to benefit from Coors field and hitting alongside Troy Tulowitzki. The only question about CarGo is can he produce at that level again? Still only 25, he seems to be entering his prime and should have another MVP caliber season.
2. Josh Hamilton – The reigning MVP in the American League, Hamilton is capable of putting up massive numbers once again. Losing Vladimir Guerrero hurts but gaining Adrian Beltre helps. Hamilton should smash well over .300 hit close to 30 home runs and have around 100 RBIs. A good second and a great third round pick.
3. Ryan Braun – Regarded by many as the best offensive outfielder the last few years, Braun had a great season despite having a slight down year compared to his standards. He’ll hit .300, score 100 runs and knock in 100 RBI. Only question is how many home runs he’ll hit, he has gone from 37 to 32 to 25 the past three seasons. A young veteran at 27, Braun should have another great season.
4. Carl Crawford – The best leadoff hitter in the game will now be hitting in front of Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis. He scored 110 runs last year and now in front of Boston’s killer lineup and a short porch in right, Crawford should have a monster season and could score 125 runs or more.
5. Matt Holliday – A solid perennial all-star, Holliday will hit over .300, hit 25 home runs and have around 100 RBIs. Hitting alongside the best player in the game, Holliday will have another productive season.
6. Delmon Young – The former first overall pick in 2003 finally put his potential together and his breakout season last year. Another young star at just 25, he could hit .300, 20 home runs and have 100 RBIs once again. If he regresses slightly he’ll still be an above-average outfielder.
7. Carlos Quentin – Another risky but potential steal, Quentin has more talent than his stats showed last year. He’s always had pop but hasn’t been able to stay consistent. He’s only 28, so he has time to recapture his 2008 season. The White Sox have a chance to have a strong offensive team and Quentin could be a part of that.
8. Vernon Wells – He had a resurgent year last year with Toronto, part of a Blue Jays team that had more home runs than anybody in baseball. He moves to an offensively average team with the Angels but he’s still an above-average outfielder with pop. He should hit around .270 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs.
9. Jose Tabata – Unknown to most fans because he’s on the Pirates, who are in a current, historic losing-season streak of 18 seasons. A talented rookie with some power in his bat, he has a few good hitters around him but he’s bound to have some growing pains. The Pirates will have a losing season for the 19th year in a row but Tabata is a good late round pick.
10. Martin Prado – He’s going to play after since Chipper Jones is returning from injury. A .300 hitter who has decent pop, he’ll reap the benefits from a Braves offense that will be a lot better than last season and could score 100 runs once again.
11. Brett Gardner
12. Juan Pierre
13. Alfonso Soriano
14. Jonny Gomes
15. Ryan Raburn
16. Raul Ibanez
17. Luke Scott
18. Johnny Damon
19. Josh Willingham
20. Jason Bay
21. Logan Morrison
22. Tyler Colvin
23. Pat Burrell
24. Juan Rivera
25. Will Venable
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Top 25 Center Fielders
1. Matt Kemp – Had a disappointing season but still was a solid run producer. Don’t be surprised if Kemp bounces back and hits .290, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs with 30 stolen bases. Only 26, Kemp is in his prime and should rebound from 2010.
2. Shane Victorino – Took a dip with his batting average down to .259, but he’s still a good combination of power and speed. The Phillies are still a high-powered offense and he’s at the top of the order. If the Phillies offense and Victorino play to their potential or at least close to it, Victorino could return to his 100 run-scoring form.
3. Andrew McCutchen – Another talented, young outfielder overshadowed by the losing shadow of Pittsburgh, McCutchen has speed, good power and hits for average. A future all-star who is only 24, McCutchen should hit near .300, hit 15 home runs and steal over 30 bases.
4. Torii Hunter – Mr. Reliable will be just that again for the Angels. He’ll hit around .285, hit near 25 home runs and have around 85 RBIs. Hunter might be slowing down on the base path, but his bat speed is still good and he’s still a productive hitter.
5. Alex Rios – Power and speed, Rios flies under the radar with the White Sox despite being an above-average hitter. He could thrive along with rest of the White Sox offense and have a career year if he plays to his potential and hit nearly .300, 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and steal 30 bases.
6. Colby Rasmus – He has progressed in his two years in the league in all offensive categories and he’s only 24. The Cardinals offense will be one of the best in the National League and Rasmus could push to be an all-star for the first time in his young career.
7. Chris Young – The rare combination of power and speed and a low batting average. Young can hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases while hitting .250 or worse. A good late round pick, a producer who isn’t as consistent as you want from an everyday outfielder.
8. Curtis Granderson – Didn’t live up to expectations in his first year in pinstripes and was bothered with injuries. His power and speed are good but his strikeout tendencies are alarming. If he can stay healthy he should put up much better numbers in the Yankees offense. Granderson could hit .265 with 30 home runs and score around 90 runs if he can stay on the field.
9. Drew Stubbs – The Reds first round pick five years ago proved his worth last year, even with a .255 batting average. Having the ability to hit 25 home runs and steal over 30 bases in a loaded lineup in a batter’s ballpark could mean Stubbs could be a steal in the mid-rounds.
10. Andres Torres – The switch-hitting journeyman had a breakout season, not spectacularly in any one category but across the board Torres was productive. He could be a late bloomer or might be a one-season splash, Torres is worth a gamble in the late rounds.
11. Jacoby Ellsbury
12. Adam Jones
13. Michael Bourn
14. Angel Pagan
15. Rajai Davis
16. Grady Sizemore
17. B.J. Upton
18. Franklin Gutierrez
19. Denard Span
20. Marlon Byrd
21. Chris Coghlan
22. Coco Crisp
23. Austin Jackson
24. Dexter Fowler
25. Julio Borbon
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Top 25 Right Fielders
1. Andre Ethier – Was having an MVP caliber until he broke his pinky and still put up solid numbers despite never really getting back on track. The .300, 30 home run, 100 RBI plateau that so many sluggers strive for could be had if he stays consistent.
2. Jason Heyward – The rookie standout proved he belonged in the big leagues and would be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Now batting alongside Dan Uggla in addition to a healthy Chipper Jones will give Heyward lots of opportunity to get extra at-bats late in game and score more runs. Having perennial all-star Brian McCann in the Braves lineup means Heyward could possibly score 100 runs this season.
3. Shin-Soo Choo – The one consistent force on a lousy Cleveland team, Choo seems to hit .300 with over 20 home and 20 stolen bases despite not having much protection in the lineup. The Indians should be a little stronger offensively with the return of Grady Sizemore and the rise of young catcher Carlos Santana.
4. Corey Hart – Doesn’t get the attention of slugging teammates Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Hart put up great power numbers last year. Hart will give you a .280 average along with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs and could probably be taken in the third or fourth rounds.
5. Justin Upton – One of the most talented players in all of baseball, Upton had a down year from his breakout 2009 performance. Despite having the ability to have a 25 home run and 25 stolen base season at the age of 25, the Arizona Diamondbacks don’t seem committed to Upton. He could regain his 2009 form to an extent since Arizona is such a hitter friendly park, but the hitters around him don’t seem to offer much protection. A good mid-round draft choice.
6. Jose Bautista – The riskiest pick you should consider when drafting. He went from being mediocre to leading the league in home runs last year. His teammates Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had career power numbers the year before then struggled horribly in 2010. Bautista could be a late bloomer or a one-year wonder. Not the first or second outfielder to draft, but if you think you’re going to need power, Bautista is worth a mid-round gamble.
7. Jayson Werth – Going from a stacked lineup in a hitters dream park in Philadelphia to an average lineup in a huge park is not going to help Werth live up to his mammoth new contract. He’ll still be a better than average outfielder who can hit .280, 20 home runs and knock in 75 RBIs. A mid-round pick, don’t pick him too early because there is no chance he puts up his past numbers.
8. Jay Bruce – Had his best season at the plate last year, hitting for power while raising his average from a dismal .223 to a respectable .281 in 2010. The Reds offense is going to put up some big numbers with Bruce, Stubbs, Brandon Phillips and of course Joey Votto. Only 23, he still hasn’t hit his prime yet.
9. Nick Swisher – It appeared as if Swisher was becoming an all-or-nothing type hitter who would spend a lot of time on the bench until he started his resurgence with the Yankees. His average has gone from .219 to .249 to .288 in the past three years while still hitting nearly 30 home runs a season. He’s probably not going to continue to progress at that pace but even if he just duplicates his 2010 numbers, he’s worth a mid-round pick.
10. Nelson Cruz – Had his good offensive numbers flip the past two seasons, raising his average from .260 to .318 but losing a third of his home runs, from 33 to 22. Cruz’s problem is that he can’t stay healthy long enough to show what he can do in a full season. He’s a worth a mid-round pick but not an early round pick because at some point he’ll probably on the bench with an injury.
11. Mike Stanton
12. Hunter Pence
13. Ichiro Suzuki
14. Nick Markakis
15. Michael Cuddyer
16. Magglio Ordonez
17. J.D. Drew
18. Cody Ross
19. Lance Berkman
20. David DeJesus
21. Ben Zobrist
22. Carlos Beltran
23. Carlos Lee
24. Travis Snider
25. Garrett Jones
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Top 10 Designated Hitters
1. Vladimir Guerrero – Vlad smashes at a .300 clip and hits around 25 homes while driving in 100 runs year after year. No longer has the speed to play the outfield much and show off his cannon, he’ll benefit once again from playing in a small yard in Baltimore like he did in Texas. The Orioles offense will hit a lot of home runs but also strikeout quite a bit, so his RBIs will come but in streaks.
2. Adam Dunn – It’s pretty much a lock Dunn will hit 35 towering home runs and drive in 100 RBIs. He’s also going to be near 200 strikeouts. If he doesn’t suffer from switching to the American League for the first time in his career, he’s going to thrive in the southside of Chicago and could hit 45 bombs.
3. David Ortiz – Having a late revival in his career after a decline that ended with a rough 2009 season, Big Papi is back to his slugging self again driving in 100 runs. The Red Sox will an offense that will compete with the Yankees for the best in baseball and Ortiz will be somewhere in the middle of the order. Ortiz should have another 100 RBI season.
4. Jorge Posada – His catching days now gone, Posada should be able to play more games even as he turns 40 this year. The Bronx Bombers will be just that once again and with fresher legs he should be able to contribute more than he did last year. Hitting .270 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs is what Posada should bring in 2011.
5. Jim Thome – Showed he still had power in his bat at age 40, Thome thrived in the new confines of Target Field. Just 11 home runs shy of 600, he’ll play enough to reach that milestone but he’s also going to get days off for rest, limited his numbers. When facing a stretch of lefties you should probably sit him but there will be days where he racks up RBIs.
6. Bobby Abreu
7. Hideki Matsui
8. Michael Young
9. Manny Ramirez
10. Edwin Encarnacion