With Spring Training
starting, baseball fanatics across the country are furiously prepping up for
the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season. Whether playing H2H or Rotisserie
(apparently the name ‘rotisserie’ comes from the fact that the very first
fantasy baseball draft was held in a rotisserie restaurant), fantasy baseball
is very exciting and requires a level of studying for gurus and newbies alike.
First Base is so
deep this year that picking Albert Pujols first overall doesn’t give you an
advantage. I’d rather have Hanley Ramirez. He puts up slightly sub-par power
numbers to Pujols, but really he has a higher average, scores the same amount
of runs, drives in practically the same amount of runs, and steals more bases
at a more expensive position.
Consider these two
PLAYER A: .306, 35
HR, 111 RBI, .972 OPS
PLAYER B: .327, 47
HR, 135 RBI, 1.101 OPS
Player A is Derrek
Lee, a player not being drafted as a starter this year, usually around the 15th
first baseman taken.
Player B is Albert
Pujols, the consensus number one selection.
First base is
infinitely deep this year, with Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira,
Ryan Howard filling out the elite spots and tons of other useful players follow
(Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Justin Morneau, Kendry Morales, Lance Berkman,
Billy Butler, Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena, Victor Martinez, Mark Reynolds, Kevin
Youkilis, Todd Helton… you get the idea, all of these players are 30/100 or
Sleepers/Value Picks: Joey Votto, Nick Johnson, Lance Berkman, Billy Butler, Carlos Pena (Pena’s basically Mark Reynolds, but TONS cheaper)
ultrashallow position, second base has deepened recently, as Aaron Hill and Ben
Zobrist broke out last year, with others such as Robinson Cano proving they
have undisputable talent. It’s deep enough that you certainly don’t have to
worry much about position scarcity, and I see Chase Utley as being one of the
least appetizing options in the first round.
Compare these three
PLAYER A: .282, 31
HR, 93 RBI, 23 SB
PLAYER B: .296, 15
HR, 72 RBI, 20 SB
PLAYER C: .272, 25
HR, 96 RBI, 3 SB
Looking at these
statistics, it’s clear that Player A is the best, although his average isn’t
exactly elite. Player A is Chase Utley, drafted in the first round of every
draft. Player B is Dustin Pedroia, who is being drafted as the 3rd or 4th 2nd
bagger, in the 4th round. Player C, who really is on par with the others
(except for stolen bases) is Jose Lopez,
being drafted as the 10th or 11th 2nd baseman, around the 12th round. So as you
can see, drafting a second baseman early is not needed as in recent years.
My Top 15 2nd
baseman basemen are as follows: Chase
Utley, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Dustin Pedroia, Aaron
Hill, Brian Roberts, Ben Zobrist, Jose Lopez, Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera,
Dan Uggla, Ian Stewart, Martin Prado, Placido Polanco.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Jose Lopez, Scott Sizemore, Aaron Hill (going WAY too late in drafts for a .285/35/100 player)
Third base is
surprisingly thin this year, with A-Rod once again leading the way and Evan
Longoria not far behind and improving. Alex Rodriguez is going to be the 3rd
player off the board in almost every draft and earlier I recommended picking
third to draft him. David Wright took a step back power-wise last year, so he’s
being seen as a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
You certainly want one of the top 6
third-basemen: Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval,
Ryan Zimmerman and Kevin Youkilis. After that, you have to deal with the likes
of Mark Reynolds (good for power, destroys your average), Chone Figgins, Aramis
Ramirez (good, but certainly not close to being elite), and others.
If you don’t get A-Rod, don’t reach for Wright or Longoria as they’re overvalued, instead snap up either Sandoval or Zimmerman in the 4th round.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Gordon Beckham, Alex Gordon, Mark DeRosa
One of the mains reasons I recommend picking out of the 3rd spot to draft A-Rod is because then you have a good chance of picking Troy Tulowitzki off the draft board. Of course, Hanley Ramirez is king among shortstops, but consider these two stat lines:
PLAYER A: .301, 33 HR, 67 RBI, 35 SB, .940 OPS
PLAYER B: .292, 32 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB, .930 OPS
Which year would you rather have?
Player A is 2008 Hanley Ramirez, after that season he was hailed as the best fantasy player in baseball and was drafted first overall the following season in most drafts.
Player B is 2009 Troy Tulowitzki, who drove in more runs and hit 1 less home run that 2008 Hanley while maintaining a pretty good average and almost on-par OPS. Yet Troy Tulowitzki is being seen as late 2nd round/early 3rd round material. Translation: You want Troy Tulowitzki on your team.
After those two, you have the choice of question-marks and/or one-category studs. Can Derek Jeter hold up despite his old age? Will Jose Reyes bounce back and hit 20 HRs while maintaining his steals? Was Jimmy Rollins’ MVP year an outlier? Does Stephen Drew actually have potential? To sum things up, you want to draft either Han-Ram 2nd overall, take Tulowitzki, or follow your gut feeling on the previous question-statements.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Troy Tulowitzki, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael Furcal
Joe Mauer. If you have an early 2nd round pick, you should seriously considering drafting the Minnesota Twins stud. After him, you have Brian McCann, a consisent .285/25/100 player that you should probably pick up if you fail to get Mauer. Then you step down a bit to Victor Martinez, the last sure-fire thing in the catching universe. You want one of these three. If you’re feeling the Wieters effect, sure take him, but you really want to claim one of these three players.
After them you have (in my ranking order): Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, Mike Napoli, Ryan Doumit, Bengie Molina, Kurt Suzuki, Chris Iannetta, Geovany Soto and A.J. Pierzynski.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Geovany Soto, Russell Martin, Ryan Doumit.
Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp headline the outfield position, both of them are 5 category studs. He’s never viewed as a very speedy player, but Ryan Braun actually stole 20 bases last season while putting up big numbers elsewhere. However, they are both being drafted in the first round and I don’t think either of them are totally elite. Carl Crawford is being drafted in the first round on some sites, while other sites seem him more as a 5th or 6th round player. The truth lies somewhere in between, as he has 15+ HR power as well as phenomenal speed and solid statistics elsewhere around the board.
Outfield is extremely deep this year, and I’d fill out my entire outfield with later round performers and role players such as Torii Hunter, Jay Bruce, Juan Pierre and Nolan Reimold if I were you.
To demonstrate how deep the position is consider these two stat lines:
PLAYER A: .313, 24 HR, 109 RBI, 14 SB, .909 OPS
PLAYER B: .300, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 21 SB, 883 OPS
The two players are almost even, Player A is Matt Holliday, the 5th or 6th OF option this year, who shouldn’t improve much on those totals, while Player B is Shin-Soo Choo, an underrated Korean import that will go as about the 20th outfielder.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Carlos Lee, Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Torii Hunter, Nolan Reimold, Julio Borbon, J.D. Drew (A capable player undrafted in some leagues)
Starting pitching has about 10 solid aces, and then you get into the potential/value options. My ten aces are ranked as follows: Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Zach Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester. Pitching has so much depth this year that you shouldn’t reach for more than one ace.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Matt Cain, Brett Anderson, Chad Billingsley, Jair Jurrjens, Jered Weaver, Roy Oswalt, Rick Porcello.
Relief pitching is also pretty deep, as a lot of closer positions are already locked down. Possibly only five teams are undecided on who will pitch the 9th in 2010. I, as well as many other fantasy experts, strongly recommend to wait for relief pitching, don’t draft it early.
Rankings: Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Francisco Rodriguez, Andrew Bailey, Francisco Cordero, Heath Bell, Huston Street, Jose Valverde, Trevor Hoffman, Brian Wilson, Brian Fuentes, Chad Qualls, Frank Francisco, Billy Wagner, Ryan Franklin, Rafael Soriano, David Aardsma, Carlos Marmol, Bobby Jenks, Leo Nunez, Brandon Lyon.
Sleepers/Value Picks: Brian Fuentes (led majors in saves last year), anyone else after the top 8 or so are taken.