Alone Miguel Cabrera would be the second ranked 1B in fantasy baseball, but with my fourth ranked first baseman having joined him, Cabrera is #1 followed closely by Albert Pujols. Joey Votto comes in third and Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez fill out the top five and they are all beasts. That’s all that needs to be said.
Add Mark Teixeira at #6. I have no worries about any of them, though he isn’t close to the others.
The next six or so can go in any order but I’m going to explain my ranking a bit before I reveal it. Positional scarcity comes into play less than other rankings, BUT guys with multiple eligibility are very valuable because injuries happen, so having a guy who can play multiple spots gives him a value boost.
Now, #7 is Paul Konerko, but he could be overtaken by the next few with no problem. I struggled with 8-10 but I settled on Carlos Santana, Eric Hosmer and Mike Napoli, in that order.
One of these years Hosmer will vault into the 5th to 7th range, but that may be one year off yet. Unfortunately, he will likely be overdrafted a little bit because of the potential.
There’s a group that would fall between 10th and 15th with some names that I really like. Michael Morse broke out in 2011, but might still be slightly undervalued. Freddie Freeman has very encouraging upside but also major downside. He tends to be very streaky, but he’s a good mid-round pick.
Ryan Howard is a major question mark because we just don’t know about the achilles. I tend to like Adam Lind every year, and I end up trading him as well. When he’s hot, he’s one of the best and yet the numbers always end up mediocre.
Now, I expect I will be drafting Adam Dunn in my leagues this year because he will fall to the ends of drafts. Now, between 2004 and 2010, he NEVER had less than 38 home runs, only ONCE had under 100 RBI (92 in 2006) and only ONCE had less than 80 runs scored (79 in 2008). He never played less than 150 games in that span and had 100+ walks every year until 2010. I’m going to give him a pass on 2011. At the very least, I expect 25 homers and 80-90 RBI, still having 40/100 potential.
I’m not touching Lance Berkman or Carlos Pena, in case you were wondering. But there’s an interesting group on the other end of the age spectrum with Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo, Ike Davis… and then there’s the soon-to-arrive talents of Anthony Rizzo who was traded to the Chricao Cubs. He has serious power if he can keep the average acceptable. Yonder Alonso might also arrive this year, but in San Diego, which dampens the excitement because PetCo will sap his power.
Finally, a name of note is Chris Marrero in Washington. He batted .274 in 109 at bats at the major league level last year. If you have an injury and need someone to fill in for a while, especially in deeper leagues, Marrero might end up helping you.
I’m actually going to add one more thing, because I can’t resist. The 28-year-old Mark Reynolds… yes he’s led MLB in strikeouts the last three years… but he got under 200 Ks last year for the first time since 2007… He has 28 home runs and 85+ RBI and 79+ runs in each of the last four seasons. So we’re talking about a guy that’s 30/80/80 in the bank. And with a career batting average of .238, if he could get it to the .250 range… get past the strikeouts for a moment. AND… AND… he’s third base eligible, one of the ugliest positions in fantasy.
Richard, Minnesota: What is a fair expectation for Hosmer this year?
Well, in 128 games (523 at bats) in 2011 he was at .293, 19 HR, 78 RBI and 11 SB with a .799 OPS. Looking at that, and probably hoping for around 140 games, I think its “fair” to expect .290, 25, 85 and 10, with the upside for .300, 30, 95, and 15. I can’t bring myself to hope for 100 RBI when that lineup is still spotty, but in a year or two maybe. And he may never steal 15 bases but 10 per year isn’t bad with the other numbers.
Francisco, London: How do you draft a guy like Ryan Howard or Ike Davis this year, with all the risks?
Honestly, I won’t be. First base is too deep to take that kind of thing. I might take a chance on Buster Posey if he slips far enough because catcher is so empty, or on Chase Utley if he falls far enough (which he won’t). If I was compelled to draft them, Howard’s ranking would entirely depend on his prognosis, which we just don’t know, so I wouldn’t touch him before the 7-10 round area. And Davis is a late-round pick at best right now.