It is a big rankings week at DraftBuddy.com as we roll out rankings for all of the positions, and just in time as there are less than four weeks to Opening Day, and fantasy baseball drafts are in full swing. Let’s start with the corner infielders, first base and third base, which is going to represent the cornerstone of many a fantasy team this year including the number one player in the game.
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, STL – Where else can we start than with Albert Pujols? He is simply the best player in fantasy baseball. His elbow is giving him some trouble that will one day have to be fixed with surgery, but until then, he is still the best. There should be NO reason that you skip over him with the number one pick in your fantasy draft, especially now that 2011 became a contract year for him.
2. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI – Howard is still an elite player, despite struggling in 2010 with injuries. He is well worth a first round pick but is being drafted at the beginning of the second round, which makes him a nice bargain. Jayson Werth won’t be protecting him this season, but Howard is still worth a late first rounder.
3. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN – Votto has reached the elite level of players for fantasy purposes. He’s being drafted in the middle of the first round in most drafts, which is about right. Look for him to put up similar numbers to his 2010 season for the next five years or longer.
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET – Cabrera had issues with alcohol for the second offseason in a row, but don’t expect that to bother him too much during the 2011 season. He’ll still produce his typical .310/35/115 line we’re used to seeing from the big fellow.
5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, BOS – The question last year about A-Gone: How good could this guy be in a better hitters’ ballpark and in a better lineup? We’re about to find out. Playing in the Boston lineup should be a lot of fun, so look for almost 40 bombs and more than 125 ribbies. Gonzalez may start slow returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
6. Prince Fielder, 1B, MIL – Fielder struggled in 2010 because he wasn’t very happy. The team spent a lot on pitching to become more competitive and this is a contract season for Fielder. He’s not getting a lot of love as he’s slipped into the middle of the second round of many fantasy drafts. He’ll get you nearly 50 bombs and drive in around 115 while hitting around .285. What’s not to like?
7. David Wright, 3B, NYM – Wright had a nice comeback season following a rocky 2009. Look for numbers in the .297/27/100/20 range. Wright is the elite third baseman, so putting him at the hot corner of your fantasy squad could be the foundation of a great season.
8. Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY – Teixeira continues to thrive with the Bronx Bombers. A line of .273/36/115 is something I’d want in my fantasy lineup. Tex marks the end of the elite first basemen, so make sure to grab one of the top seven if you are in a league that requires you to field a 1B, CI and UT.
9. Evan Longoria, 3B, TB – The young phenom from Tampa Bay is going to light it up for the Rays. The only question is whether anyone will show up to see him do it at Tropicana Field. A .279/28/100 line is a good expectation. He’s going in the top five of most fantasy drafts, which is a little rich as there are several others who will provide you similar numbers a round later.
10. Adam Dunn, 1B, CWS – Dunn is the model of consistency. He has hit between 38 and 46 homers every year for the last seven seasons. This season should be no different as he gets to hit in one of the most homer friendly parks in the Majors and likely ends up near the higher end of that bracketing. He should be 1B eligible in your league, but his batting average will keep him out of the elite group.
11. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY – A-Rod is going in the second round of most mock drafts, which is a steal. His contract isn’t up at the end of the season, so look for a standard line of .274/32/109/12. If you can pair him with an elite 1B, you have a serious infield corner combo that will push your team to the top of the power categories.
12. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS – A lot like Longoria with a little less power, Zimmerman is still quite a player for Washington. He doesn’t get a whole lot of notoriety because his team plays in obscurity, but the 26-year old will likely post numbers around .292/24/96. His overall numbers are similar to Longoria and Rodriguez, so grab the one who slides the farthest in your draft.
13. Paul Konerko, 1B, CWS – Konerko had quite a renaissance last season. I wouldn’t expect a repeat, even with Dunn in the lineup, but a .294/34/100 season is well within reason. He’s a great fourth or fifth round grab if you miss out on the elite first basemen above.
14. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, BOS – Youk moves across the diamond to 3B and gets A-Gone as lineup protection. He’ll need to stay healthy, but a .304/25/90 season is pretty good for your hot corner. He’s being drafted early in the third round of most mock drafts. There is some risk with him because of uncertainty he can stay healthy, so it would be wise to invest in an adequate backup.
15. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT – Alvarez is a high risk, high reward guy. He is very young and looks to be budding into quite a power hitter. Can Alvarez take the next step forward at the tender age of 24? He should be good this year, but he will also be a drain on your batting average.
16. Jose Bautista, 3B, TOR – Bautista came out of nowhere and hit 54 bombs last year. Is Bautista for real or does he have a pharmacist who is one step ahead the MLB chemists? Fantasy owners are definitely skeptical of a repeat, so depending on your fellow owners he could be overvalued or undervalued in your draft. The Toronto Blue Jays believe in him as they signed him to a long-term deal. If you invest, understand your batting average will suffer.
17. Billy Butler, 1B, KC – Butler is starting to come of age. He will likely be the designated hitter in Kansas City for most games this season, but that doesn’t matter as long as he can rake. At a .324/20/85 clip, Butler will be a big help to your team for a sixth round pick.
18. Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL – Reynolds was traded to Baltimore to act as their third baseman. The Diamondbacks are trying to rid their franchise of the free swingers who would air condition Chase Field and Reynolds was the man to start with. Reynolds has the top three strikeout seasons of all time and his batting average will really hurt your team average, but if you are desperate for power and a dozen or so steals, Reynolds fits the bill.
19. Michael Young, 3B, TEX
20. Kendry Morales, 1B, LAA
21. Derrek Lee, 1B, BAL
22. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF
23. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, CHC
24. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, FLA
25. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN
26. Chase Headley, 3B, SD
27. Ian Stewart, 3B, COL
28. Carlos Pena, 1B, CHC
29. Mitch Moreland, 1B, TEX
30. Placido Polanco, 3B, PHI